Capitol Views by Maginnis: Retirement contribution hike heads to House floor
Nothing has gone fast and easy for the governor's controversial retirement agenda. One of its major bills inched forward today, with the proposed 2% increase in employees' payroll contribution clearing the House committee and now headed to the House floor. The increase would be phased in 0.5% at a time over a two-year span beginning in July 2014. Like other retirement bills, Senate Bill 52 has slowed to a crawl, having taken a full month on the Senate floor calendar and several rewrites before it passed, 23-12, on Monday. Supporters and opponents made the same arguments put forward on this and other bills that change the rules for current employees. "It doesn't matter whose fault it was," said author Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, of the state's $18.9 billion unfunded accrued liability. "The problem is here today. We are here today." "This bill just doesn't break contracts; it breaks promises made to thousands of employees," said Cindy Rougeou, director of LASERS. Governor's counsel Liz Murrill claimed, "This is not a tax. It is deferred comp." Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, responded, "This is not deferred comp. It is a payment on past debt." Opponents roundly predicted this bill and others affecting retirement age and final annual compensation would be overturned in court. Jones counted seven areas ripe for constitutional challenge. Other Democrats criticized the bill, but Jones' was the only dissenting vote in its 10-1 approval. Read the full column here for additional coverage of a 47-page amendment that was tacked onto a three-page bill today and approved.
(John Maginnis will publish a daily update throughout the legislative session on Daily Report PM. The report is also available to LaPolitics Weekly subscribers on the Subscribers Only page at LaPolitics.com. Registration is available on the homepage.)
Louisiana Public Broadcasting is providing a daily video update featuring highlights of the session, which you can see beginning at 6 p.m. here.
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