2nd Stakeholder Meeting

The second stakeholder meeting for the LEOFF 1/LEOFF 2 merger proposal was held on March 22, 2019.  As with the first meeting it was well attended but as with the first meeting nothing was accomplished.  It is just about impossible to have a meeting with 20 or 30 people and accomplish anything when dealing with a complex and contentious issue.

Prior to this meeting we received an email from Senator Van De Wege with three questions. It was interesting to discover that different groups got different questions.  The main thrust of the questions was whether or not a constructive meeting could be conducted.  The groups that answered that question said yes but that Van De Wege needed to be very transparent and willing to fully disclose how this concept came into being and who are the principal authors.  We renewed our request for a full Public Records disclosure and, again, he advised that they could not respond in less than 45 days—a time period that would be beyond the current session.  When, and if, they do respond we will publish the responses or lack of response to our records request.

Efforts to point out that legislative promises have been broken in the past and that in several jurisdictions where the pension systems have had similar protections there have still been efforts to reduce the pensions claiming extreme financial troubles.  Van De Wege’s response was that we are different than other states.

Van De Wege also stressed that the pension plan will not continue until the last member dies.  In one report when asked, “What is the problem we’re trying to solve with this legislation that he wants to propose?”  Van De Wege’s answer was that there is a surplus of funds and something needs to happen with those funds. Van De Wege thinks that the merging of the funds is the answer and that it will save the state a lot of money. Of course, he is wrong on both counts. LEOFF 1 has had a surplus for over twenty years even with no pension contributions. Why does something need to be done about that? Merging the funds is not the answer. It they want to relieve themselves of the burden of carrying a surplus, just give us the money.

I would urge everyone to read our article reviewing the merger proposal.  We take each item of the proposal and analyze it trying to understand the reasoning and underlying meaning and relationship of the various components.  See the article.

Bill Dickinson and Andy Wilson did a YouTube review of the March 22nd stakeholders meeting.  It is well done and generally accurate in our view.  Some of the comments are a bit disjointed and confusing unless you have a good understanding of what they are talking about.  So read the Merger Review article first.  Then watch their video for a slightly different.

The bottom line is we still consider the entire concept to be a bad deal for both LEOFF 1 and LEOFF 2.  The employers don’t fare well either.  Only the state is treated favorably.

The third stakeholder meeting is scheduled for March 29th.  Senator Van De Wege promised to have the bill ready by then.  Sure hope he gets it to us at least a day early so we have a chance to read it.

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