Defined pension HB55, for public safety, dies in Senate after Alaskans make their voices heard

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A bill that would have reinstated a defined benefits plan for some public employees has failed to make it through the Alaska Senate before the Legislature gaveled out for the year.

The bill, HB 55, would have restarted a plan for firefighters and peace officers, which was introduced as a method to recruit and retain public safety officers and replace the current defined contribution plan with a set pension, similar to the one that existed before 2006 in Alaska.

Americans for Prosperity Alaska State Director Bernadette Wilson said the bill dying was a victory for fiscal responsibility. Her group had raised the alarm over the likely costs for returning to a pension plan, when the previous plan has not yet been paid down. Her group counts this as a win, after volunteers made hundreds of calls to lawmakers asking them to vote no.

The bill, pushed by public sector unions, was flawed by many accounts. According to the Equable Institute, the plan provided slightly worse retirement benefits for most Alaska peace officers and firefighters, compared to the current defined contribution plan.

More about the score the Equable Institute gave HB 55 here.

The Equable Institute also said:

  • Short-term workers would likely be worse off under the proposed retirement plan. 
  • Medium-term workers could be slightly better off under the proposed plan than the current plan depending on personal factors in their career; but even if they are the proposed plan’s value is below common standards for adequate retirement income. The proposed plan does not meaningfully improve retirement security prospects for medium-term workers.

“Because the proposed pension plan does not provide meaningfully better benefits, it is unclear whether adopting HB55 would achieve the stated goal of its proponents to improve retention,” Equable said. “Most academic literature suggests that few individuals join public service because of the retirement benefits, and other factors like salary, health benefits, and working conditions are stronger factors for retention than retirement benefits (no matter the plan design).

If the public employee unions want to push the effort to return to defined pensions, they’ll need to reintroduce legislation next year, as HB 55 is now dead.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s see if we can imagine an even more stupid solution to our problems. Oh, I got it! Have the fed print $10-billion for everybody in the USA, including illegal aliens. Yeh, that ought to do it.

  2. This is really good news. We, the people need to do more of this when our legislature wants to spend us into oblivion.

  3. I hope those who run for public servant positions do it out of love for the US Constitution and defend it as the laid down, declared law of this country. I hope all of those seeking temporary service are humbly dedicated to the rights of Americans to be free from tyranny, free to exercise one’s own consciense vis-a-vis injection of other human’s tissue into their body, freedom to travel, freedom from acts of foreign agents unduly influencing our American way of life recognizing he or she is operating under Constitutional limits not grants of power.

  4. The far LEFTISTS are puttin out ads for TARA sweeny, also posted in hispanics papers as they come north as illegals. not sure why her ad is here.

  5. Sorry to see this, we need something to end the 5 and out system currently in place. We have a severe shortage of law enforcement personnel and keeping Alaska as a training ground will only exacerbate the problem. Hope a healthy budget was set up for recruiting, equipment, uniforms, academies, instructors, and field trainers.

  6. Really happy this state doesn’t care for firefighters or police to remain in the state.
    Great to know I can work 25+ years and not be able to retire.
    The state drops over 100k each in training and grooming of these employees, and then they find out there is 0 retirement so they leave.

    Will defiantly be following my brothers and start looking for a different department to lateral to.

    • Officers and Fire Fighters don’t have zero retirement Joe! They just have to take personal responsibility and invest their money in a 401k. The City matches to an extent. More millionaires are made through 401ks than traditional pensions. Even if their employer does not contribute! Police officers and firefighter don’t leave for the retirement, they leave because 1. The job is hard and not everyone can do 20+ years. 2. Because people in a America are being groomed to hate police officers. Also when cities decide they are going to take police policies into their own hands without doing the job just to turn around and fire officers why would they want to stay?! I could go on… Speaking from experience here Joe, my husband has been an officer for over 20 years.

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