Senator Stuart Ingle has proposed a bill, SB 307, that would increase legislators’ pension benefits and also increase their contribution to their PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association) pension fund.
I worked at schools and for the city of Roswell for 25 years, 35 hours/week ERB (Educational Retirement Board), 40 hrs/week PERA. I contributed $66.99/paycheck (gross $776.75) according to a 2006 RISD pay stub I found — and $88.13 (gross 963.22) 2009 city pay stub. Those were bi-weekly pay periods, so in 2009, for example, I paid $176.26 monthly, $2,115.12 yearly, into the PERA pension fund on a salary of $23,117.28. My pension benefits, ERB and PERA combined, come to just under $14,000. In both my jobs, part-time positions were not eligible for pension buy-in unless specifically allowed. These figures are all from before pension contribution by workers was increased during our recent years of budget crises.
Senator Ingle wants to contribute $1,000/year for a pension of about $10,000 after 10 years part time (30 days per year alternating with 60 days plus committee meetings) service. What makes legislators so much better than regular state workers? They would work many fewer hours for their pension, make much smaller contribution to the fund, would keep the legislators’ fund separate from PERA while being paid through PERA. Reports say the legislators’ pension fund is over funded, while PERA and ERB struggle to stay solvent.
If Sen. Ingle thinks our citizens’ Legislature is the wrong approach, if he feels the legislators cannot have a career outside Santa Fe that allows them to provide for their retirement, if he feels legislators deserve to be part of PERA even though they are part time workers, then he should write that legislation. If legislators are going to be in the PERA system, they should contribute the same percentage of income to the fund as regular workers, be vested after 5 years, collect the pension after 25 years. Legislators should not be getting special above-normal benefits paid for by taxpayers.
Please contact your legislators and tell them to vote no on SB 307.