I don't like to be publishing a post just for the sake of saying something. Nevertheless, this post falls into that category. There are lots and lots of rumors about what may still happen as the Legislature gets closer and closer to its mandatory sine die date of July 13, 2013, but so far there has been no real action on any of the rumors. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication even between members of the same committee. At a Town Hall on Tuesday night, Richard Devlin, co-Chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee told an audience that adjournment would be sometime between July 3 and July 10. The next night at another Town Hall, Peter Buckley, the other Co-Chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee told a different crowd that adjournment is still scheduled for June 28. If Buckley is right, next week is going to be extremely busy. I rather doubt Buckley is right. In the meantime, the significant budget - K-12 - has been delayed and delayed with the next vote scheduled for June 26. The Hospital Provider tax still has not been scheduled for a vote, unless I've missed its schedule. Somewhere in this maze may be one or two more bills related to PERS - one to reduce further the COLA for retirees, and another (or included with the COLA modifications) to reduce the annuitization rate for inactive members who retire under Money Match. Neither bill has a chance unless the Ds in the Legislature get commitment from a number of Rs (greater than 2) to vote for the proposed $200 million more in increased taxes. So, there is still a great deal to accomplish in what is a very diminishing time period. One clue about potential PERS changes lies in the bill to appoint an Interim Committtee on PERS that would be tasked with reviewing ways to change PERS benefits (to future retirees) that would survive legal challenges. The task force has a vague charge, but is designed to report to the interim leadership of the Legislature just before the 2015 session and disband and sunset before the actual convening of the 2015 session. The bill has a number but I don't know what the schedule for hearings is, or whether it even needs hearings. I'm pretty sure the Legislature can appoint a task force by mutual consent of the party leadership. Do recall that a similar task force existed prior to the 2003 session, and virtually all the bills, adopted and rejected, originated from that task force. The fact that such a task force is being contemplated again suggests that the Legislature may be uncomfortable going forward with much more (if any) changes to the benefit structure without a detailed legal, political, and economic analysis. I'm agnostic on the appointment of such a committee. Indeed, if they were seeking representation from a retiree, I would certainly volunteer to participate. But, I'm pretty sure no one wants me on their committee <g> for pretty obvious reasons. Deep thinking does not seem to be a qualification that is desirable in such a setting. But, stranger things have happened.
Anyway, that's the news for this week. Another week or two of agony for retirees, and another week or two of agony for inactive PERS members eligible to retire. Just remember that anything enacted with an emergency clause takes effect the day the Governor signs the bill. Again, you've been so advised. Take from that whatever you want to take.