The importance of pensions to different kinds of state employees becomes a sticking point in efforts to change state government’s biggest pension system. Participants in the most popular state pension program make no contributions. The state pays all of the costs for what is called a defined benefit program. Lawmakers looking for ways to reduce the costs suggest switching to a Defined Contribution system that reduces state costs but requires future employees to contribute part of their salaries.

Senator Charlie Shields of St. Joseph proposes the switch. Senator Tim Green wants to keep things as they are. Shields says his plan saves huge amounts of money in the long-term. Green says the Shields plan will cost the state 300-million dollars in the decade before savings start to be felt and complains the plan costs the state money at a time when the state has no money to spare.

The two disagree on the importance of the state pension to young people becoming state employees. Shields thinks his plan will attract higher-quality employees. Green says requiring contributions won’t work for the people in the trenches.

Hear debate, part I (Shields, Green) 23:27 mp3

Hear Debate part 2 (Engler, Shields, Green, Crowell) 37:24 mp3

Hear debate, part 3 (Green, Crowell, Engler) 24:19 mp3

Hear 4th part of debate (Green, Shields, Crowell) 48:03 mp3