Letters to the Editor

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STATE: Workers didn’t create unfunded liability

Letter by Diana Parkison, Olympia on Feb. 1, 2011 at 11:48 am with 10 Comments »
February 1, 2011 12:08 pm

The state gave public employees an implied contract: Give us your service, and we will give you a pension.

Every pay period we gave our 6 percent; it was the employer – the state – that did not give its share.

The state investment board earned a good return on funds invested, but without the full 100 percent contributions from the state, they have not had the opportunity to earn the maximum possible.

The “Uniform COLA” is not even a “COLA”; it is based on how many years retirees worked for the state and the amount of their monthly pension, and does not even start until age 66.
In January, health premiums went up 19 percent, and the governor wants another 17 percent increase next January.

The average PERS I pension is $20,500. Where will the retiree get the extra 17 percent next year, let alone the 19 percent this year?

The unfunded liability of the pension is not a problem that the retirees created. But now we are being asked to pay for it.

The governor’s opinion that the permanent COLA for PERS I pensions is a huge factor in the underfunding of the plan is just not true. It is a factor, but the real problem is that the employer, the state, has not met it obligations to pay their share.

We employees faithfully paid our share every pay period. But to bear the cost of bailing the state out of this problem is not fair and it is not our problem.

Leave a comment Comments → 10
  1. … and which party has controlled this state for the last few decades???

    The one that buys elections by making all kinds of promises… and then reneges. The party that my own union keeps telling me to vote for because they’ll ‘take care of us’.

  2. BigSwingingRichard says:

    No, the problem is the State legislature (controlled by the Democrats) did not fund your pension, they spent the money mostly on State employee salaries and you union sheeple keep reelecting them.

    You have no one to blame but yourself.

  3. SFKemerson says:

    State workers have donate millions of dollars to the people whose job it was to negotiate labor contracts on behalf of the taxpayers for the last three decades.

    They have also been major donors to the chief budget writers in our state for most of the same period.

    Elections have consequences. Ms. Parkison’s pension going insolvent is a consequence of the poor decisions made by the victors of those elections. She mentions that state workers” faithfully paid their share every pay period”… True, but the taxpayers faithfully paid there share everytime they purchased something.

    Ms. Parkison asks “where will the retiree get the extra 17%?” This may sound cold-hearted, but I ask, can she explain to me how that’s the taxpayers’ problem? While I’m sure she’s a nice lady and doesn’t deserve an insolvent pension, don’t expect too much sympathy from the 1 in 5 Washingtonians who are either unemployed or underemployed.

  4. harleyrider1 says:

    There was a statement made that may have gone unnoticed. The Democratic controlled state legislature year-after-year did not fund any pension if they could “opt” out and use the money elsewhere. Their statement of record (read them) was there would always be money later for this. It was never done under any other dominated legislature.
    The monies were diverted and used for pet projects and social massaging.

    Are the Democrats the blame? Ultimately you are. You kept voting these same people back year after year, often fighting hard to steamroll any opposition. Sometimes crooked politics (voting by dead people in King County) were put into action so Governor Chris and friends could win again. Yes, they did these things – but you were the boss and approved their actions every year. You. Think before you vote. And stop whining.

  5. spotted1 says:

    What if I did not vote these people into office? What if I voted for the opposition and lost? Am I still to blame? Why is the assumption that the “unions” automatically vote democratic? Yep, the unions dump big bucks into the democrats, but not necessarily the rank and file union folks. The folks who are hard working and disagree but are ignored on these issues.

    Some of these statements are saying that the worker is to blame not the perons who didn’t do their job. The government chose to take money from these funds and they could “pay it back later”. Both at the state and federal level. Well guess what. The time has come to pay and they are balking.

    Thank you to all of you who continue to vote in those folks that have done this. Guess what, in a couple of months, everyone is going to get hit hard when the budget comes out. Don’t complain because you voted for those people in Olympia and you loose your money or health care or child care or services.

  6. commoncents says:

    Richard – Where in the letter does it say who she voted for? Your reply is idiotic at best.

  7. alindasue says:

    If a person pays into a pension fund and the employer has agreed in the contract to match the funds, the employer is required to match the funds. That’s how it works in the private sector. Why shouldn’t it also be how it works for people who work for the state?

    State employees who expect this is no more “taking from the tax payers” than a private company’s employees who expect their contracts honored are “taking” from the customers.

  8. bobcat1a says:

    Richard, fewer than 20% of employed people in Washington belong to unions. How is it that this small number is able to completely control elections in this state?

  9. In the last thirty years there have been both Democratic and Republican controlled legislatures.

    NONE of the legislatures funded the pensions, not in good times not in bad.

    What other party that had a chance at controlling the legislature should we have voted for?

  10. jbullat says:

    Oh please! That is the sound of the worlds smallest violin cliche! What part of “we are out of money” don’t you people understsand? Try being self employed in the construction indusrty and pay 100% of your own health care, pension, expenses and employment taxes and B&O tax along with 80 to 90 percent of someone else who is working for government who’s job may very well be that of making mine more difficult. Retirement is not even in our venacular anymore. Quit whinning and get a real job. Better yet grow up. We, the people who create the wealth, allowing you to live in the lap of the nanny state, are tired of being your parents!

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