Originally published on 08/16/2014
“A contract is a contract, except when it isn’t.”
We have just published a couple of recent articles dealing with a State Supreme Court decision relative to a gainsharing provision in the Teachers Retirement System.
While these decisions have no direct impact on LEOFF 1, they are none-the-less, a red flag for all pensioners in Washington. My fear is that it will embolden the legislature to again look at pensions as a way to counter their budget woes. Hence vigilance is needed as the next session of the legislature starts in January.
By two unanimous decisions the Washington Supreme Court said the Legislature had the right to eliminate state employee pension increases that were approved during the stock market boom of the 1990s. Those decisions save the state billions of dollars but leave many public employees (TRS) feeling cheated.
The state made the promise of the pension enhancements in the late ’90s when officials persuaded tens of thousands of workers to give up their defined-benefit retirement plans for cheaper plans.
Now the promise is broken. Maybe the Teachers need to rethink who they support for election.
“When the Senate bill creating gainsharing passed in 1998, the vote was 46-1. Lest the point be lost upon anyone every single Republican voted for this new benefit. Need I repeat that? Okay: Every single Senate Republican voted yes.
When gainsharing was repealed in 2007, the vote to repeal was 52-45 in House (I joined 33 Republicans, including the then-leader and the leader today, in voting no) and 26-21 in Senate (14 no’s were Republicans, including the then-leader and their leader today). In other words, most Republicans opposed breaking this promise. And I think that was honorable on their part.” Brenda Williams
What does it mean for LEOFF 1?
You may remember the late 1990’s. Gainsharing had been granted to the Teachers and LEOFF 1 had a billion dollar surplus. Rumors were being spread about a distribution of the surplus or maybe even a gainsharing program like the Teachers. Of course it all fell apart rather quickly and was followed by two attempts to raid the LEOFF 1 pension system. That started this battle that has been ongoing since.
We have had a quiet period and managed to get through the last session with no attack on LEOFF 1. We hope that has stopped but the danger that someone will think we are too weak or too dumb to fight may make yet another run on us.
So, stay current with your retired group. Make sure we have a good email address for you and check out LEOFF1.net regularly. It has been quiet lately, but I expect the pace to pick up as we pass through this election cycle and on to the 2015 legislative session.
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