UPDATE ON HB454 AND GABA:
An important message from MEA-MFT President and Montana's Promise Coalition member Eric Feaver on HB 454 and GABA.
"You may have read a news story that some folks are very unhappy with HB 454 the legislature recently passed that amortizes and saves the Public Employees Retirement System as a defined benefit/pension retirement plan. These folks are demanding Governor Steve Bullock veto the bill. They specifically do not like reductions HB 454 makes in a PERS retiree’s Guaranteed Annual Benefit Adjustment or GABA.
We here at Montana’s Promise firmly disagree. We expect Governor Bullock to do not just the right thing - but the necessary thing - and sign HB 454.
If Governor Bullock were to veto the bill the unfunded liability in PERS would only grow and grow becoming ever more difficult if not impossible to fix in the next legislature or the one thereafter. In time, left unaddressed as in HB 454 future and maybe even current retirees might not actually receive a Montana promised pension for the rest of their lives. No fooling.
HB 454 is not a perfect fix to the huge unfunded liability PERS suffers . . . and late session technical amendments make the legislation work less well than intended.
Fortunately, the legislation can be fixed down the road.
Meanwhile, the governor’s goal – Montana’s Promise’s goal – was and remains to amortize and save Montana public employee pensions.
Like HB 377, its TRS companion fix, HB 454 will do that.
And HB 454 will do it at far less cost to taxpayers than killing pensions and mandating all new hires into 401k-like retirement plans that would provide public employees far less retirement security. We hope no one has forgotten that killing pensions enjoyed significant support among legislators who were not at all inclined to honor Montana’s Promise.
As for GABA, itself, it is NOT per se a pension.
GABA is only a small part . . . by no means the whole of a retiree’s pension benefit.
We here at Montana’s Promise know that serious representatives of public employee unions and retirees are right now engaged in the preparation of litigation to address legitimate contractual and constitutional concerns HB 454 and HB 377 present re GABA.
WHO ARE WE:
Members of the Montana's Promise Coalition include: Eric Feaver, president of the Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers. Al Ekblad, Executive Secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO, Joel Fassbinder, President of the Montana State Council of Professional Fire Fighters, Jacquie Helt, President of the Service Employees International Union, and Timm Twardoski, Executive Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Montana Council 9.