Lawmakers eager to inject budget surplus into KPERS’ bottom line

The Kansas House and Senate adopt competing bills investing up to $1 billion in the state pension program.

By

State News

March 10, 2022 - 3:34 PM

Rep. Rui Xu, D-Westwood, offered an amendment to a pension bill that would have provided cost-of-living increases to 82,000 retirees in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. The idea was rejected by the Kansas House. Photo by (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The House and Senate approved rival bills injecting $1 billion of the budget surplus into the state pension to cover skipped payments to the system in 2017 and 2019 and to bolster the bottom line of a retirement program serving more than 300,000 members.

Both Republican-led chambers Wednesday rejected cost-of-living payments to individuals receiving retirement benefits from the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. House Democrats were unsuccessful with an amendment earmarking $238 million for the first COLA since 1998. In the Senate, Democrats were unable pass an amendment giving retirees an additional monthly check at a cost of about $155 million.

Republican lawmakers voting for the bills said the objective was to use excess state revenue to pay off debt to KPERS and to diminish the unfunded liability in the system’s portfolio serving state workers and school teachers.

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