Bill Would Fund KPERS With Casino Revenue

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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UPDATE: Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Kansas House gave final approval Tuesday, to a bill that would help overhaul KPERS, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

Within the bill, is a measure that would transfer some of the revenue from state-owned casinos into the fund.

"Our thought was we'll capture some of that cash and put it toward the unfunded actuarial liability, so that our current employees and current retirees can feel secure that there's a separate funding source going to that unfunded liability," said Rep. John Grange, (R) El Dorado.

KPERS owes more than 260,000 Kansans an estimated $8.3 billion through 2033. Most of that is currently unfunded.

This bill would help solve that problem.

"It's for future employees only. It doesn't affect anybody that's currently employed, up to January 1, 2014. If you're in a KPERS plan now, or you're thinking about employment in the public sector, this won't affect you," said Rep. Grange.

Some gamblers say it is an idea they hope the state cashes in on.

"Municipal employees give a lot of their time and effort, and they deserve, like the rest of us to have a retirement fund, and that's been robbed a few times," said Rose Mary Saunders, Wichita.

"I think shoring up the KPERS fund is a big deal right now, because that goes to teachers also, and a lot of county employees," said Joyce Rush, Wichita.

The motion will next be discussed within the Senate, who is creating its own bill.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Kansas House has approved a bill to use revenues from state-owned casinos to help close a long-term funding shortfall facing the state pension system for teachers and government workers.

The measure, approved Tuesday on a 92-33 vote, also would require public employees hired after 2013 to choose between two new pension plans. Neither would be a traditional plan guaranteeing
benefits up front based on a worker's salary and years of experience, and one would be a 401(k)-style plan.

The measure goes to the Senate, which is working on its own bill.

The state pension system projects an $8.3 billion gap between anticipated revenues and retirement benefits promised through 2033.

Supporters hope that over the next two decades, several billion dollars in casino revenues could go to the pension system.

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