Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thom Williams: State retirement system overhaul is unnecessary and potentially dangerous

The Equality State Policy Center and the Coalition for a Healthy Retirement held a town hall meeting Thursday in Cheyenne about impending threats to the state retirement system. Those threats come mainly from extremist Republicans in the legislature, many of whom happen to be inspired and funded by ALEC-written model laws. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, the same guys who have worked overtime to screw public employees in other states, especially those with a strong union presence (Wisconsin anyone?).

This morning's Wyoming Tribune-Eagle had a lengthy article about the town hall meeting. Here are some snippets:
The head of the Wyoming Retirement System says a major overhaul of the state's public pension program is unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

Thom Williams, executive director of the WRS, told a group of state workers and retirees Thursday that the Legislature should resist any efforts to move to a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan. 

"The problem is (defined-contribution plans) are not a reliable means for providing retirement security," he said. "These defined-contribution plans oftentimes result in people running out of money."

The Wyoming Retirement System is currently run through a defined-benefits plan. This provides eligible retirees with pre-determined benefits.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those state employees who have contributed to his defined-benefits plan since 1991. I am 100 percent behind the current system, especially considering what's happened to the economy since 2008. Wyoming has done an incredible job of managing the plan, and it is healthy and solvent. There is absolutely no logical reason to change the system. When that's the case, you have to look at other factors. And that's where you find right-wing ideology and the Koch Brothers and ALEC. There are those in the legislature who do ALEC's bidding. We have named names on these pages many times and will continue to do so when it gets closer to the legislative session. It's amazing to me that the same legislators who cry foul when the federal government or outside corporate interests attempt to interfere in state policy have no problem when fat cat billionaires do the same thing. Instead, they're eager to sign on.

Stay tuned for more on this

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