Wednesday, January 12, 2011

State employees benefits in the cross hairs

Benefits to state employees may take a hit this year when lawmakers convene later this week. Increasing the dollar amount that employees must contribute to their retirement and reducing insurance benefits for part-time employees may both be vulnerable as lawmakers once again struggle to make ends meet.

Just one day before the 2011 legislative session begins, the Joint Budget Committee began approving numerous measures to be considered by the full General Assembly—among which is a clone of last year’s Senate Bill 10-146 that decreased the state’s contribution into PERA by 2.5 percent and increased the employee’s contribution by 2.5 percent for one year.

JBC staffers who run and know the budget numbers intimately recommended that last year’s bill be renewed, but for a two-year period rather than just one year.

Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, said he reluctantly agreed with the recommendation, adding, “I think we should bite the bullet and do it for two years.”

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, agreed the extension is necessary but said that extending the increase for two years rather than one would cause a stir among state employees who successfully lobbied last year to keep it at one year.

The panel voted to move forward with the legislation—with a one-year timetable. More -

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