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Our Opinion: Local pension bills enjoy widespread support

Our Opinion: Local pension bills enjoy widespread support

March 29th, 2014 by The News Tribune in News

Governing often requires choosing from among multiple options.

Rare is the proposal that presents no downside and attracts no opposition.

Maneuvering smoothly through the legislative process is a proposal - reflected in House and Senate bills - to permit local governments to transfer their closed pension systems to the state-operated Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS).

Senators voted unanimously, 33-0, Thursday to advance the version by Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, to the House. A House version sent to the Senate last month on a 150-2 vote was assigned Thursday to a Senate committee.

Discussion on the proposals characterized them as a win-win for local governments and for LAGERS.

For local governments, the measure would permit, but not require, the transfer of older pension funds to the state system, as long as current employees already are covered by LAGERS.

Jefferson City Firefighters Pension Board has been active in trying to get the law passed.

LAGERS staff would take control of investing funds and paying benefits. "This permits local governments to get out of the pension business," said Keith Hughes, LAGERS' director.

Hughes told lawmakers the concept also enjoys the unanimous support of the LAGERS board of trustees.

LAGERS is not required to accept a request from a local government. Local plans must be fully funded before LAGERS will agree to take them, and the local government remains responsible for paying into the fund.

The proposal creates no mandates, adds little or no burden to LAGERS and could ease the workload for local governments.

We encourage approval by lawmakers.