[StBernard] Commentary: Retirement bill is 'train wreck' that should be vetoed

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Jul 5 18:44:51 EDT 2007

Commentary: Retirement bill is 'train wreck' that should be vetoed

With the passage of House Bill 845, Louisiana lawmakers voted to place an
enormous and completely unjustifiable financial burden on the trust fund of
the Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System.
HB 845, by Rep. Sydnie Mae Durand, won approval in the final days of the
session. It grants special retirement benefits to a select group of LASERS
members at no cost to the recipients. It makes 450 adult probation and
parole officers eligible for free service upgrades, which would allow them
to retire with larger pensions at an earlier age. Hundreds of their
correctional officer colleagues had previously paid tens of thousands of
dollars each for similar benefits under the two-tiered retirement plan
available to many corrections personnel.

HB 845 was a bad idea from the beginning. The version of the bill that won
final passage is a train wreck. The select few can continue to enrich
themselves, and the retirement system is left to pick up the tab.

Under an amendment offered by State Sen. Walter Boasso, HB 845 now provides
that: "Any member who is a probation and parole officer in the office of
adult services of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, who is
employed before Jan. 1, 2002, who elected to transfer from the primary
component to the secondary component and who upgraded his service credit as
permitted pursuant to subparagraph (B)(2)(b) of this section, may elect to
be reimbursed and to have his benefit calculated as provided in R.S.
11:444(A)(2)(c) for all creditable service in the system earned before the
date the member transferred to the secondary component."
According to LASERS actuary Charles Hall, this means that LASERS, in
addition to bearing the cost of providing unpaid-for retirement benefits to
a select group of probation and parole officers, will also have to reimburse
this special, select group of adult probation and parole officers who paid
to upgrade prior service in a similar fashion.

The intended funding mechanism, a $65 fee on new probation and parole cases,
will not even come close to covering the cost. There are doubts as to
whether such a fee is even collectible.

The bottom line is that a privileged group will receive free, unearned
service credit from LASERS, and the cost will be subsidized by every other
hard-working member of the retirement system.

In the interests of fairness, justice and fiscal responsibility, the LASERS
Board of Trustees appeals to Gov. Blanco to veto House Bill 845.

Louis Quinn is legislative committee chairman for the LASERS Board of

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