Bipartisanship. It’s rare these days, isn’t it? No matter which side of politics you’re on over the border wall, health care, climate change, or anything for that matter, it’s tough these days to come together and hash out a deal. Politicians across the United States have been doing this for years, but it seems that over the last few years specifically, they’ve been unable to do so. Except in one place.
Our coalitions have been finding themselves on the defense the last few years. We’ve been able to push back against some disastrous pieces of legislation – legislation that would harm the retirement security and dignity of our public employee retirees across the nation. This year in the State of Minnesota something magical happened. Lawmakers were able to come together and make a deal to address the unfunded liabilities of their public pension systems.
Much like other states, Minnesota lawmakers needed to consider ways to address the unfunded liabilities of their state pension plans. For years, the plan was underfunded by lawmakers. Mixed with the market crash in 2008 and the unfunded liability increased. Instead of taking a partisan stance, Republican House and Senate lawmakers came together with the Democratic Governor Mark Dayton to pass a bipartisan fix.
As we’ve stated before on this blog, the pension legislation passed had everyone at the table, and all parties sacrificed. The state will contribute $141 million to the pension plans over the next three years. Current employees will increase their contributions to their pensions and retirees will have some changes to their cost of living adjustments (COLAs). The legislation also lowers the assumed rate of return for all of the pension plans to 7.5 percent, which is in line with the national average.
Minnesota was a model for bipartisanship last year with their pension bill. The legislation put the state on the path to solving the unfunded liabilities of their pension systems. In a time where we see partisan lawmakers pushing through legislation that won’t actually fix their problems, maybe those same lawmakers should take note from Minnesota: bring everyone to the table next time.