State Rep. John Frey (R-111) is seeking to relieve Connecticut of a massive burden to its state budget by proposing two bills that will address the massive costs of state employee pensions that have increased exponentially each year.  The first, H.B. 6087, would ensure that state employees’ pensions are based only on stated income.  The second, H.B. 6292, would eliminate state pensions for elected officials in Connecticut.

“By now, everyone knows that Connecticut has a major fiscal problem and that it has stalled its economy,” said Rep. Frey.  “Governor Malloy calls it our ‘new economic reality, but there’s nothing new about it.  Unfunded pension liabilities owed by the state total more than three times the state budget.  If we want to seriously explore how to get Connecticut out of this mess, we need to stop thinking about new ways to tax people and start tackling the quagmire of these unfunded liabilities.  We really don’t have a choice but to make significant changes.”

Rep. Frey noted that past decisions pushing off making payments have caused pension costs to grow uncontrollably, with annual contributions to state employees’ and teachers’ pensions more than doubling since 2010. Unfunded pension obligations currently equal three times the 2016-17 state budget.

“Pensions should be based only on stated income, just like most other public sector workers, without counting longevity pay, mileage reimbursements and overtime,” Rep. Frey said.  “Currently, employees’ pensions are calculated based on the three years they made the most income, which includes a lot of overtime, travel perks and fringe benefits.  H.B. 6087 would make state employees’ pensions more affordable by more accurately reflecting their salaries.”

As for lawmakers’ pensions, Rep. Frey stressed that elected officials proudly serve as part-time employees.  “It doesn’t make sense for part-time employees to participate in a pension program,” he said.  “A salary and mileage reimbursements for elected officials make sense because of the demands of the job, but it makes no fiscal sense for them to receive pensions or for their years of service in the legislature to count towards a pension if they eventually go on to hold a full-time state job.”

“This bill is unlikely to be popular among many of my colleagues, but it’s the right thing to do and it addresses this problem without raising taxes,” Rep. Frey added.  “Too many seemingly minor perks and ambiguous aspects of service in state government are driving us into the ditch.  I think my fellow legislators need to take a hard look at the budget and accept that this is where the most savings can come from.”