Astute readers of this blog will note that we at the Rio Grande Foundation are consistent advocates for limited government. Sometimes, this means agreeing with folks that we have deep philosophical differences with on a wide variety of policy issues. One of those people would be liberal Rep. Mimi Stewart. Well, as this report from Capitol Report’s Rob Nikolewski today is one of those days for strange bedfellows.
Stewart has sponsored HB 644 which, as Nikolewski noted:
Calls for members of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) and the Educational Retirement Board (ERB) who have less than five years’ service to work longer terms before becoming eligible for retirement in order for the PERA and ERB pension plans to become actuarially solvent.
Uniformed public employees — such as police officers and firefighters — are exempt from the changes.
The bill also calls for adjustments in the PERA cost of living adjustments — ending the current system in which PERA retirees receive a 3 percent annual cost of living raise and instead would tie the cost of living adjustment to the Consumer Price Index.
A former public school teacher, Stewart said unless something is done to the current pension plans, taxpayers could be on the hook for $1.2 billion in order to keep the plans solvent.
While I’d like to see more, deeper changes to New Mexico’s pension system, the fact is that Stewart’s bill was an important start. Thus the hostile reaction from AFSCME lobbyist Carter Bundy as discussed in the article.
With time running out in the session, it is hard to say what (if anything) will happen in the Senate.