Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Veterans & Military Affairs Committee shoots down pension flexibility measure

Monday the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee shot down a measure directed at giving local governments and school districts more flexibility in managing their employees’ pension funding in order to balance their budgets.

“This bill was introduced to protect the jobs of teachers, government hospital workers and city employees,” said Senator Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs. “Unfortunately, firing teachers and reducing jobs may be their only option now that the State refused to give local governments and districts the much needed flexibility to address this growing problem. This party-line vote seems to contradict Governor Hickenlooper’s recent call to reduce state mandates on local governments.”

Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera testified in favor of the legislation, citing that the State has given itself exactly the same flexibility in administering its employee pension funds.

“Local governments should have the same flexibility the state government has provided itself,” said Mayor Rivera. “By tying local governments’ hands with unfunded mandates, it gives us few options other than cutting services, reducing capital investment or reducing the size of our workforce.”

Colorado Springs has already reduced its utility workforce by 10% and their municipal workforce by 14%. Without SB 11-074 more city workers and teachers may be laid off in the future.

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