Cheyenne Representative leads the charge for reforming state pensions

Apr 30, 2012

Wyoming lawmakers are considering further reforms to the state’s pension system. This year, the legislature lowered pension benefits for new employees  and changed the way cost-of-living adjustments are made.

But Cheyenne Representative Bryan Pedersen  says he is convinced that even with the changes, Wyoming won’t have e

“This will at best float us three to five years. It’s a band-aid that will kick the can further down the road. And that’s with the plan fully performing at the eight percent estimated average annual return.”

Pederson says lawmakers need to consider increasing the amount that employers and employees pay into their pensions and he says they should also think about putting new employees on defined contribution plans, rather than defined benefit plans. That would mean the state would contribute a set amount to employees’ retirement accounts but wouldn’t make promises about how much it would pay out when the employees retire.

Pedersen  says those changes would enable the state to avoid cutting benefits of current employees.

“When someone signs a contract to come to work for the state, they came with the assumption that that would be there for them, and I think that it is on us to provide that level pension benefit.”

A committee of lawmakers will meet several times this summer to discuss options for reforming the system.  During the last legislative session, some disputed the claim that the retirement system is on shaky ground.