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October 27, 2013 at 8:29 AM
2008 recession continues to affect those who had nothing to do with it
There is a lot of pressure for the state Supreme Court to overrule lower court rulings on state employee pensions [“Supreme Court: rule against pension lawsuits, Opinion, Oct. 24].
A recent editorial pressures the court to rule against state employees because the state needs the money. What is at issue is a maximum 3 percent cost-of-living raise that starts at ages 67 and 68 and is only granted if there is inflation. This involves an older pension plan where nearly all employees are already retired.
State employees and the state were supposed to equally share in paying into this pension fund. The employees always did, but when times were lean, the state neglected to pay their share, promising to do it later. Of course, they never did. Now it insists on changing the rules after people have already retired. This UCOLA was negotiated instead of pay increases. The economic disaster of 2008 keeps punishing people who had nothing to do with causing it.
Wanda Granquist, Auburn
March 11, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Defined-benefit retirement plans are sustainable
The Seattle Times editorial “Replace public pensions with contribution plan” [Opinion, Feb. 28] is wrong. Defined-benefit retirement plans are sustainable. In fact, a well-designed and properly managed defined-benefit plan is a very effective, cost-efficient benefit with less cost to the taxpayer. In Washington, employees pay 50 percent of the cost, so any risk is shared equally by employees and employers.
The Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters plan (LEOFF) demonstrates how a properly managed pension plan can work for employees, employers and taxpayers. It is fully funded, provides moderate benefits and is not projected to require any increased contributions despite the recent recession. All reputable economic studies have concluded that switching to a 401(k)-type plan simply results in less income for the same amount of money. Secure retirement benefits help to attract and retain competent, dedicated employees and respect retired citizens.
We should focus attention on urging the Legislature to be more responsible in funding our existing public retirement plans and on creating similarly effective plans for private workers. Dismantling secure retirement benefits, such as defined-benefit pensions, not only affects public employees and suppresses benefits for all workers, but it mostly hurts retired citizens by reducing their income. It is our shared responsibility to respect our retired and elderly citizens and to ensure for them the secure retirement they deserve.
–Kenny Stuart, president, Seattle Fire Fighters Union
March 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Plan would aid economy, threaten power structure
Your proposal to shift public-employee pensions out of defined benefit plans and into private 401(k)-like plans makes too much economic sense to ever be adopted [“Replace public pensions with contribution plan,” Opinion, Feb. 28].
As things now stand, the private economy through tax revenue must ultimately support government pensions anyhow. If government employees at all levels were to finally realize that their pensions (and their jobs) depend directly on the health of the economy, they might begin to question whether current government policies foster economic growth or hamper it. This could lead to a policy shift and to a vibrant, prospering economy.
However, by diminishing the illusion of government as our primary benefactor, such a plan threatens the existing power structure and therefore could never be taken seriously.
–Jesse B. Jolibois, Lakewood
February 27, 2013 at 7:00 AM
State figures are also a concern
Before The Times publishes articles critical of Norm Dicks’ pension as a retiring U.S. congressman, it should look right here in our own state of Washington [“Congress retirees’ pensions too high?” page one, Feb. 22]. I think you will find many public employees in this state who receive similar or greater benefits who are far-less-deserving.
An example might be a state legislator who has a long career, retires (or is voted out of office), then gets appointed to some cushy state job at a much higher salary, then receives retirement benefits based on those last two years salary. At least the congressman was a full-time legislator who represented his constituency 100 percent.
–Jim Jones, Marysville
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