Posted on February 7, 2019 by admin
In an effort to reduce the burden on taxpayers and to get Connecticut’s continual budget deficits under control, State Representative Stephanie Cummings (R-74) proposed two pieces of legislation to eliminate pensions and retiree health insurance benefits for state legislators.
Proposed bill 5958 – An Act Eliminating Retiree Health Insurance Benefits for Legislators Whose Benefits Have Not Vested, and proposed bill 7074 – An Act Eliminating Pensions for Legislators Whose Benefits Have Not Vested, would eliminate the practice of providing legislators with retirement pensions and health benefits unless such benefits were vested on or before June 30, 2019.
“I proposed these bills because it’s clear that the old way of doing things is not working and that Connecticut will be mired in financial distress for years if we don’t change how we operate our government,” Rep. Cummings said. “As legislators, we have been tasked with finding substantial savings to balance another massive budget deficit and these proposals can save the state millions of dollars over time. When we ask the people of Connecticut to make sacrifices and tighten their belts it is our duty to share in those sacrifices and do the same. These are real, quantifiable savings.”
Rep. Cummings said that years of putting off making payments into the pension system have caused costs to grow uncontrollably, with annual contributions to state employees’ pensions rising by a factor of 2.5 since 2008, according to figures from the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA). And, health benefits for non-Medicare-eligible retirees cost the state approximately $26,676 per employee annually, while Medicare-eligible retirees cost approximately $8,652, per employee, according to OFA. Eliminating these benefits for non-vested legislators would reduce the state’s financial burden over time.
If passed, these bills would eliminate Rep. Cummings’ eligibility for both benefits.
“Many of my colleagues will be upset by these proposals, and I personally will not be eligible for pension or retirement health benefits if they pass, but it is absolutely the right thing to do,” Rep. Cummings said. “As part-time employees it’s shocking that we’re eligible to receive such substantial benefits upon retirement. Very few private employers offer these types of plans and it’s time to eliminate these outdated practices for part-time state legislators. Our job is to help Connecticut taxpayers save more of their hard-earned money, not protect our own retirements.”
The bills have been referred to the Appropriations Committee and are awaiting action. The 2019 legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday, June 5.