Representative Stephen Sandstrom
(KCPW News) Two bills to overhaul the state’s public employee retirement system are advancing to the floor of the House of Representatives. Senate Bills 43 and 63 passed out of the House Retirement and Independent Entities Committee yesterday in a party-line vote. But even as they advance, they continue to change. Davis School District teacher Susan Firmage said these changes indicate the Legislature needs more time to consider such a drastic overhaul.
“There’s only two weeks left in this session,” she told lawmakers. “This is such a complex issue. And each week, and within each hour, there have been changes. And I would request that this committee does not pass this onto the House floor.”
Yesterday, the committee substituted SB 43, “Post-retirement Employment Revisions,” and amended SB 63. That means both bills would have to go back to the Senate for reconsideration if they eventually pass the House.
Representative Stephen Sandstrom, a former pilot, said he understands what it feels like to have a pension dishonored in the wake of a crisis, such as what happened to pilots following the 9/11 attacks. But even so, he voted for the bill.
“My biggest concern was that we are using a crisis to make drastic changes,” he said. “I think we know we’re in a crisis. I don’t think there’s anybody here that doesn’t realize that we’re in a crisis. And I do understand how that works. But I think this needs to be debated before the entire body of the Legislature.”
A third retirement bill, SB 94, remains on hold in the Senate until further notice. The three pieces of legislation are sponsored by Republican Senator Dan Liljenquist. The state’s retirement system faces a $6.5 billion shortfall.