Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Republican legislators trying to pull a fast one on Wyoming state employees

Fringe elements of the Wyoming State Legislature are trying to replace the state’s very successful pension system with a defined contribution plan or 401(k). One doesn’t have to be paranoid to suspect that this is in line with the current conservative meme that public workers are blood-sucking leeches on the body politic. We have seen this approach used to deadly effect in Wisconsin and Ohio and Florida and other states with Republican majorities.

Take a gander at the talking points issued by my union, the Wyoming Public Employees Association. WPEA has joined with the Wyoming AFL-CIO to stymie this Tea Party plan to short-change Wyoming state employees.  
Here is some information that you should know regarding the controversial defined contribution bill:
  • A Defined Contribution System is too RISKY and too COSTLY for Wyoming.
  • The Wyoming Retirement System (WRS) is NOT broken.
  • The WRS is one of the top ten best funded systems in the US.
  • Ten other states have determined that defined contribution plans are not efficient or cost effective.
  • The largest state retirement plan represents about 55,000 Wyoming residents:
  • 48% is comprised of teachers and school district employees.
  • 22% is state employees.
  • 13.3% is cities, towns and county employees.
  • 6.6% is University of Wyoming and community colleges.
  • 8.7% is all others including special districts, private non-profits, etc.
  • A private accounts system will cost taxpayers considerably more.
  • Switching plans could have serious economic and state government implications now and into the future.
  • Defined benefit program offers stable, predictable retirement income.
  • Defined contribution only offers the ability to transfer to another job.
  • Defined contributions are usually cashed in and not transferred.
  • Wyoming's public pension plans do not pay out lavish amounts to retirees.
  • The average Wyoming retirement pension is $16,341 per year.
Keep a close eye on the actions this session and express your view on issues by contacting your Representatives and Senators. You can reach them by going to where you will find information on how to contract your legislators directly.

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