State Pension Problem

To the Editor:

State Pension Problem: All parts of Vermont leadership should put their shoulders to this problem.

As we all know, this problem has been festering for years now. Governors, Legislators, State Treasurers and Pension Investment Committee members have come and gone without a suitable resolution. Kicking the can down the road, mostly driven my politics and simple indifference. Both the State Employees and Vermont Tax Payer deserve a permanent solution to this problem now.

Thanks to the State Treasurer who strongly flagged the problem again with some specific recommendations.

The Legislative Leader made an earnest attempt to craft a fix in a very short time, while dealing with all the complexities of Covid, Federal Government aid, and hampered by dealing largely over Zoom, etc. They came up with a “Fix” which put most of the burden on the State Employees, added substantial amount of one time money from Covid funds, and a some additional on-going contribution from the State.

Not surprisingly, the State Employees were outraged! Their promised employment terms were being broken by the very State they work for! Shame on Vermont for being so duplicitous.

Their reaction is like most of us if we had our salary arbitrarily cut, or our Social Security cut.

Not only were the State Employees outraged, but many, many Vermonters were upset by this unfair broken promise. This is not the Vermont way.

The State Pension Investment Committee oversees the management of these State funds.

This group is made up of representatives of State Employees and appointees by the Governor.

They are the ones closest to this. We need to hear from them.

The Governor, at his Thursday press conference expressed his disappointment with the Democratic Legislative Leadership for not serving him a solution “he could accept’?

He said that he would not support the $150 million one-time money the Legislature proposed, without significant structural changes. This seems to indicate he wants to do away with the promised defined benefit retirement promised, increase the cost to State Employees, and delay the date of retirement. Previously he stated that he opposes any additional taxes on the wealthiest Vermonters to cover any addition State funding.

At this point we know what the Governor does not want but what is his version of the solution? The Governor has watched this for nearly 6 years. I would hope he would have been investigating and drafting a set of solutions from his perspective. The Governor has at his call a strong financial leadership team and executive staff who are well positioned to developed an informed detailed solution. It is time he shares his solution with the Legislature, his State Employees and all Vermonters.

The State Employees and all Vermonters deserve all parts of our Government working together putting their shoulders to this problem for a real, fair and transparent solutions. The time of political kicking the can down the road must end now.

Bob Zeliff

Bridport, Vt.

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