March 9, 2011

A Kansas House committee endorsed a bill Wednesday that would cut future retirement benefits for current teachers and government workers to help solve the long-term funding woes of their pension system.

The measure that cleared the Pensions and Benefits Committee on a voice vote also would increase the state’s annual contributions to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and increase the age at which many teachers and government workers could start drawing full retirement benefits.

The bill goes against a longstanding assumption that’s governed past debates over pension legislation, that the state constitution and Kansas law prevent the state from altering its public pension plans by forcing lower benefits on current participants. But committee members said they’re compelled to act because of the projected $7.7 billion gap between anticipated KPERS revenues and promised benefits over the next few decades.

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