20 January 2010

Committee Offers Laundry List for OPEB Game Plan

The Associated Press reports that "lawmakers have identified 17 wide-ranging options for tackling the state's estimated $7.8 billion funding shortfall that stems from public retiree costs."

The special Senate Committee assigned to study the state's other post-employment benefit or OPEB quandary shared its suggestions during party caucuses.

OPEB costs mostly reflect retiree health coverage. One of the 17 recommendations "would have the state assume part of the costs now billed to county school boards," the article said. "Nearly all of state's 55 county school boards told the Public Employees Insurance Agency last month that they plan to sue over these billings."

AP also identifies several of the other suggestions:

  • Deposit $200 million between 2011 and 2012 into a special trust fund.
  • Dedicate up to $150 million annually toward these costs over the next several decades.
  • Have the state assume part of the costs now billed to county school boards.
  • Increase the retirement age of teachers and most state workers hired after June 2011 from 55 to 60
  • Increase when those teachers and workers become vested, from five to 15 years.
  • Allow government employers to list part of what's left unpaid annuall as long-term debt.
  • Lower the annual amount of what these employers must pay.
  • Change the way PEIA calculates premiums for non-retired enrollees.
  • Narrow the gaps between the deductions and out-of-pocket costs that enrollees pay.
  • Offer an alternative, cafeteria-style health plan that would charge enrollees based on the benefits they choose.
"Committee Chairman Brooks McCabe said he hoped to develop a final list of proposals and introduce the necessary legislation during the 60-day regular session that began last week," AP reports.

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