Pension law forcing rushed decisions

Pension law forcing rushed decisions

Changes being imposed by the Pension Reform Act will result in substantial pension reductions for many State Universities Retirement System participants. Because of the July 1 implementation date, hundreds of people are being forced to make a premature and rushed decision about retirement, with incomplete information.

SURS has cautioned that due to high demand, employees might not be able to see counselors to be fully briefed on their options. The retirement estimator on the SURS website is currently not functioning because SURS does not have sufficient information as to the changes. SURS leadership cautioned the Legislature that they would need a year to retool after changes were made, but lawmakers allowed only a few months. Details of supplemental programs under development by the state and UI have not been revealed.

Many harmful aspects of this act are only now becoming apparent. And while retirement-eligible employees are mulling their bleak options with limited information, the very real possibility looms that the law could be overturned, but not before July 1 — there have been four lawsuits filed to date. Unfortunately there is no "undo" button — once retired, an employee's job is gone.

It is unconscionable that our lawmakers, governor and courts are allowing this to happen. UI people of all walks — faculty, administrators, building service workers, skilled trades and office associates — are being substantially harmed by this poorly planned process. The courts should issue an immediate stay while the constitutionality of the act is being considered. The legislators can call it a "pre-retirement holiday."