A controversial measure, too controversial for the House to handle on the final day of the regular session, should come to the House floor for debate on the first full day of this special session.
Sen. Jason Crowell, a Republican from Cape Girardeau, is the architect of the public pension overhaul plan. Crowell says he doesn’t have a feel for how the House will approach his proposal.
He has made one significant concession that should help win votes in the House. Crowell’s proposal to create a single investment board now is an opt-in, meaning that MOSERS and MPERS must vote to allow the board to manage their funds.
“If they do not, if the boards of either system choose not to do that, then the investment board goes away,” Crowell says.
The idea of the independent board, itself, had become a source of controversy in the House. Crowell proposes creating the Missouri State Retirement Investment Board. It would manage the portfolios of both the Missouri State Employees Retirement System (MOSERS) and the Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees Retirement System (MPERS). Crowell argues that consolidating management of the two systems into one board would not only prove more efficient, but would increase the return on investment. The board would have seven members under SB 1, comprised of the executive directors of MOSERS and MPERS, the commissioner of administration, plus four members appointed by the governor.
Only state workers hired at the beginning of next year would be enrolled in the new retirement system. They would be required to contribute four percent of their pay to the retirement system, ending the fully funded state pension system. Current workers would remain in the present system. Public teachers and local government retirees would not be part of the new plan.
The Senate approved Crowell’s measure during the regular session, SB 714. The House failed to take it up.
Crowell says he’s been shocked by the House’s reluctance to consider the pension bill.
“I really am, but I was also shocked that the House couldn’t eliminate two state holidays,” Crowell tells the Missourinet. “For a group of individuals that prides themselves as the Tea Party conservatives and has rallies I find it crazy that they couldn’t come to consolidating two education departments into one, higher education and K through 12 education. They couldn’t eliminate two state holidays. A lot of things shock me.”
The House version of the pension bill will be heard in House committee today. If it clears the committee process, it will come before the full House for a vote tomorrow.