La. retirement system board opposes Jindal’s plan
The Associated Press
BATON ROUGE — The board that governs the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System now is on record in opposition to most of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed pension system overhaul.
Board members voted Friday to oppose the plan, saying the revamp would violate constitutional guarantees and existing employment contracts.
The changes would shrink retirement benefits for thousands of state workers, boost their costs and push back the age for collecting benefits.
Changes in benefits and retirement conditions can be made for new hires without violating the law, and LASERS has in the past supported such measures when they made fiscal sense, LASERS executive director Cindy Rougeou said.
“It’s not that we are opposed to change. We are opposed to unconstitutional change,” Rougeou said.
Jindal’s deputy chief of staff Kristy Nichols said the plan is constitutional and legal. And she said the changes are needed to reduce the retirement system’s unfunded accrued liability — the amount by which the retirement system’s benefit obligations exceed the assets of the system. State voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring the state to pay off that old debt by 2029.
The unfunded liability for the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System and other state worker retirement systems is more than
LASER’s share of that liability is about $6.45 billion — much of it attributable to promises made decades ago by past governors and legislatures.
Nichols said LASERS’ opposition is predictable.
“They are opposed but offer no solution to address the problem that exists,” Nichols said.
The board took no position on Jindal-pushed legislation that would move LASERS from a defined benefits to cash-balance system based on individual pension accounts similar to 401(k)s.