One of the major legislative issues left unresolved this spring involves the state’s pension programs and how the state will meet its obligation to pay for them. Groups have been meeting over the summer and have been challenged to develop solutions. It’s uncertain whether any solution will be called for a vote this fall.
Some unions have taken the position that the state just needs to make its annual payments and is resisting any changes in benefits or offering any payment solutions. However, the 1995 funding law mandates that pension payments grow each year until reaching 90 percent funding levels by the year 2045. The unmistakable fact is that annual payments will be so large within a few years as to be politically unacceptable; they will consume too much of the annual budget.
A constitutional amendment is being talked about that would allow pension benefits to be lowered for current employees and thus make annual payments more acceptable to taxpayers. This idea will gain more traction if no other solutions are offered.