19 February 2010

Legislature 2010: OPEB

The Senate is ready to roll out legislation meant to help West Virginia ease a massive, multibillion-dollar funding shortfall in retiree health benefits, The Associated Press reports.

In a bill expected to debut Monday, "county school boards and other government employers would get a break on what they must pay each year," lawmakers told AP. It "would also delay retirement for future teachers and public employees by five years from the current minimum, to age 60."

And while House members question such a move, senators have also discussed capping "annual retiree health subsidies at $150 million," the article said.

"The proposal arrives just as a study released Thursday calculates a $1 trillion funding gap for state retirement costs nationwide," AP observes. "The report ranks West Virginia among 19 states whose handling of its pensions funding "raise serious concerns."

"The Pew Center on the States reviewed shortfalls in both pension and OPEB-related programs," the article said. "West Virginia had promised $20 billion in retirement benefits in mid-2008, but lacked assets to cover a little more than half that... Investment losses from the financial crisis made things worse in 2009, particularly for pension funds."

Senators had previously outlined recommendations for handling these OPEB, or Other Post-Employment Benefit costs. The Charleston Daily Mail recently reported on House reaction to those proposals.

No comments: