Comments about ‘Letters: State pension fund’

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Published: Wednesday, March 6 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

No, no one pays for our investments. But defined benefit plan pensions are part of a pay contract in which the employer promises so much now and so much later. The employee works under that promise. If the employer wants to change the contract, they need to look at how to make whole the employees who have already done their work under the old contract (since the employee can't take back their work, it should be very difficult for the employer to rescind their obligations).

BTW, when did it become widely known that pension plans were using rosy investment scenarios to avoid paying more into the system? 20 years ago? 30 years ago? I know I have heard of this most of my adult life. So look at who has been in charge of the pension plan (both directly and politically) and you will see that folks have been less than fully honest with you as a taxpayer (just as they have been with the employees).

one old man
Ogden, UT

I'm sure the writer of this letter votes for legislators who, while decrying the need for good health insurance for others are enjoying a taxpayer funded health insurance program for themselves. One that is good for life if they manage to be re-elected a few times.

But offering secure retirement to the people who actually do the WORK of keeping the state operating is too much? Workers, who by the way, pay a large portion of their insurance premiums out of pocket.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Ok, don't guarantee the pension, but then the state would have to increase employee pay, something similar to what they could be getting in the private sector.
State employees are underpaid, compared to the private sector, and one of the main reasons they stay with the state is the guaranteed pension. Either way, the state will have to pay.

JoeCapitalist2
Orem, UT

We need to get rid of any guaranteed retirement plans for any government employee (local, state, or federal). Just like most companies now do, governments should make a yearly contribution to an employee's 401(k) plan as part of their overall compensation.

Let the employee decide when there is enough in there to retire. No more of this nonsense about working for only 20 years (or only 2 years if you are a congressman) and being able to retire on 90% of your last year's salary for the rest of your life. Stop the games where the soon-to-be-retired worker can work a ton of overtime or use other tricks to get their last year's salary up as high as possible and profit for many years to come on the taxpayer dime. No wonder the pension system is deeply in trouble.

If you have high risk jobs like policemen, firemen, or soldiers, then just contribute a bit more each year to attract good people.

Steve Cottrell
Centerville, UT

To those like Joe Capitalist who don't know anything about retirement pension rates in Utah:

Most retirees receive, as their pension, 2% of their salary for each year of service. The person who works for the state for 20 years would only receive 40% of their salary not the 80% you suggest.

Emajor
Ogden, UT

JoeCapitalist,
Your 90% salary pension after 20 years sounded suspicious to me, so I looked it up on The Google. Easy enough to find. First, it looks like the state is trying to step away from full pensions; new employees can either get a 401(k)/pension "hybrid" or a straight 401(k). It also looks like state employees only get full pension benefits if they retire after 35 years. There is no 90% salary pension that I could find; the highest was about 50% of their salary. Older employees can retire sooner than 35 years, but receive reduced benefits.

Maybe the system was more generous in years past.

one old man
Ogden, UT

Steve and Emajor, please go easy on those poor conservatives. It's not at all necessary to have any factual backing for a comment here. Expecting a Utah Republican to actually make an effort to be informed is simply unfair.

Confused
Sandy, UT

May I make a suggestion to the letter writer and those who bash "Us" state employees.

The Next time you are able to complete your business with the governement from the comfort of your office or home, please remember those State workers who were the ones that made that possible (no, not the legislature, the State Workers).

Second, as posted earlier, we receieve 2% for each year of service, Full retirement after 30 years (20 yrs if in Law Enforcment). So the most any one can make is 60 percent of their salary (90% where did that come from?).

Third, If you want your governement to run efficently and effectively you need to draw the brightest and talented workers to work for you. On average, the pay for state workers for the exact same duties and responsibilities of the private sector is about 8 percent lower. Which means that the the talented workers may not want to come work for the state if they can make more money elsewhere.

The way the state deals with that is retirement benifits, thus making it attractive to come to work for the state.

So please bash us state workers as often as you can.

Res Novae
Ashburn, VA

@JoeCapitalist

"We need to get rid of any guaranteed retirement plans for any government employee (local, state, or federal). Just like most companies now do, governments should make a yearly contribution to an employee's 401(k) plan as part of their overall compensation."

Federal government's been doing this for all employees who joined since 1983.

The Hammer
lehi, utah

@res novae

The federal government still has a Defined benefit its just now that benefit is partially social security, part 401k, and part Defined pension.

Most companies have moved away from defined benefits because they are forcing companies to declare bancruptcy (GM, DODGE, etc).

About this letter to the editor. It is obvious the writer is farely ignorant of how government pension plans work and the accounting portion of them. The truth is the current state pension plan is doing fine. It has been the best managed plan in the country and its assumptions used in the calculations are not that far off base. 7.5% rate or return is normal for most of these plans and it boggles my mind why John Dougall is wasting tax payer dollars and being so aggressive about this. Too bad we didn't elect a real accountant who would know where to look for real problems in our government and not some political hack.

nonceleb
Salt Lake City, UT

Many school districts are now phasing out pension plans and converting to 401 K plans for new teachers. As for being angry about funding the current system, more than once in the past, during lean years, the state legislature has "looted" the URS fund to pay for other programs.
Also, to get 90% of one's top salary (state employees get 1.5% per year), one would have to work for the state for 60 years. If starting at age twenty five, they would be 85 years old at retirement. Of course there is "forced" retirement long before then.

Res Novae
Ashburn, VA

The Hammer,

Just to clarify, the federal Thrift Savings Plan is the component of federal retirement I had in mind, designed to act as a 401(k). I think JoeCapitalist was refering to the old Civil Service Retirement Program, which is a defined benefit plan.

Us young'ins look at to our older peers who entered federal service under the CSRP with envy -- it was a pretty good deal!

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