News Columns & Blogs

KPERS change sensible, unlikely

In order to deal with the state's underfunded pension plan, a legislative committee recommended that taxpayers and government employees increase their contributions to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. That's sensible advice for a serious problem — though it's likely to be ignored by a Legislature looking for ways to cut spending. The Joint Committee on Pensions, Investments and Benefits advised that the state increase its contribution to KPERS from 8.17 percent of workers' salaries to up to 9.17 percent, which would be about a $57 million-a-year increase. It also wants to increase contribution rates by workers by 2 percentage points. Some anti-tax groups have recommended transitioning KPERS to a defined-contribution plan as a way to reduce the state's long-term liability. But Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, contends that such a switch would make the funding problem worse, because there would be fewer workers to pay for benefits for retirees in the current system.