In 1999 interesting things began to happen with the LEOFF 1 pension system. Around that time the Legislature entered into a gain sharing arrangement with the teachers and may LEOFF 1 member began to speculate that there might be a cash distribution of some of the excess funding present in the system. It was over a billion dollars at the time.
Some fire districts started to investigate ways to profit from the surplus and were proposing the elimination of local disability boards and funding of some of their responsibilities with LEOFF 1 Pension trust funds. The Association of Washington Cities decided they would like some of the money. Pretty soon everyone was onboard and chasing the money.
In September of 2000, Mark Curtis organized a meeting of interest LEOFF 1 members to see if a group of interested parties could form an organization to protect the LEOFF 1 system.
Around the same time the results of the Anchorage v Gallion case became known. In that case the surplus was awarded to the members of the system. Now the LEOFF 1 members began to see the dollar signs.
Mark Curtis organized a second LEOFF 1 meeting in Yakima on October 26, 2000. The product of that meeting was the formation of the LEOFF 1 Coalition. I attended that meeting because of all the rumors that were being passed about the surplus. Nobody seemed to have the facts.
At the meeting it became apparent that some of the members of the new Coalition had agendas or members that would not necessarily be supportive of any effort to secure the surplus as increased benefits to LEOFF 1 members. This proved true in short order. In fact, two of the delegates were actually LEOFF 2 members and one delegate had never even been a police officer or fire fighter.
So, while the Coalition was being formed, LEOFF1.Net was created to serve as reporter and watchdog. Some of these organizations do not like anybody criticizing or questioning them. We have endured their wrath and remain the only place where you can find all the facts.
Then in January 2001 the legislature went after the money. First with one bill designed to pass some of the surplus on to the local jurisdictions and when that failed the infamous SB 6166 reared its ugly head.
SB 6166 would have terminated and restated LEOFF 1. All of the surplus in the system would have been turned over to the State general fund.
The Coalition mobilized and LEOFF1.Net mobilized. The members wrote letters and called their legislators. Articles were fed to newspapers and finally, the bill was killed. But, only after it had passed the Senate.
The Coalition assisted two members in filing a class action law suit and two other members filed a different suit.
Since that time we have not had a serious attack on the system but there have been several proposals. Other states have continued their attack on the pension systems and it becomes clearer with every day that this is a long-term battle. Sometimes the pace seems slow, but the pattern of actions in Washington and across the country clearly demonstrate that the issues that started this effort have not gone away.
Editors Note: Recent years have produced three attempts to raid the pension system by merging LEOFF 1 with other systems that are underfunded. So far we have beat these attempts back. See the Categories Menu in the Right Column for details.
Even without a serious attack there has been legislative actions that impact LEOFF 1 members in every session of the Legislature. The last say a major change in survivor benefits and the establishment of property rights in divorce situations.
The post 9/11 market decline eliminated the surplus and slowed the activity, but the economy and the market is recovering. We can full expect that a growing pension surplus will attract hungry eyes.
All of this information and a lot more is covered in depth in the Members section. All the bills are there. Analysis is there.
Also in the Members section you will see how it is the Surplus disappeared and where it went. We track the system’s value and show you the mathematical tricks the State uses to manipulate the system.
LEOFF1.Net is the only place where all the information from all sides comes together.
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