The state Comptroller General told the State Budget and Control Board today that state employee pensions are dangerously underfunded in the coming decades and that “we, as trustees for the system need to do what we can to address the long-term needs of this system. Meeting those needs is not going to be easy at all.”
Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom says the unfunded liability for state employee retirement payouts now sits at $13.4 billion.
Eckstrom recommended that the board urge the Legislature “to act on the need to fund the plan.” That funding, says Eckstrom, may have to include an increase in employee contributions.
The board cannot control the employee contributions to the retirement fund; that is up to the General Assembly. Though Eckstrom later told board member, Sen. Hugh Leatherman he did not intend to “bind the hands of the Legislature,” Leatherman defended the role of lawmakers in dealing with the issue.
Leatherman, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, says a legislative committee is working on it:
I don’t want a Band-aid for this issue. I want it fixed once and for all. I want you to take whatever time you need to do that. And here we are now having about 16 legislative days left in this session. This probably can’t be fixed in that short period of time in my opinion.
Eckstrom’s recommendation to push the legislature for a solution fell flat as other board members refused to second his motion.
The fix on state employee retirement remains in the hands of lawmakers to handle at their own pace.