No straight answer on IPERS

Governor Reynolds is emphatic on saying no changes to IPERS THIS SESSION but will not state that for NEXT SESSION! I could not get an answer when I asked if she supported continuing IPERS as a defined benefit system (pension) after this session. Could it be she does not want to say anything in an election year that will irritate 355,000+ IPERS members in Iowa? She says they will honor all commitments. So does that mean changes are on the way? If so, what changes? Does that mean those now in the system are OK but future city, county, and state workers, law enforcement, fire fighters, social workers, public nurses, county hospital workers, county courthouse workers, AEA, staff at the state universities, teachers, etc. are not because she wants to go to a 401k system supported by the Koch Brothers? 

Why did she ask Republican Senator Charles Schneider to look into IPERS and he hired the Koch Brothers funded Reason Foundation of California for input? Koch Brothers hate pensions. Why is Republican Senator Brad Zaun’s SF 45 a bill in the legislature to eliminate IPERS starting on July 1, 2019? Is that so it can be debated NEXT SESSION? Her administration talks a great deal about transparency. Where is it in regard to IPERS?

We give hundreds of millions of dollars to out of state corporations (corporate welfare) and most pay little if any tax to Iowa as their profits are taxed at their state headquarters. We gave foreign fertilizer company Orascom over 200 million in tax money (over 1 million per job created) and they immediately polluted the Mississippi River. We gave Apple (one of wealthiest companies in the world 208 million to create 50 jobs; over 4 million per job created. So why are we supporting out of state corporations but not the policemen, firemen, public nurses, social workers, county courthouse, county hospital, judicial system employees, state university workers, snow plow drivers, teachers, etc. of Iowa? Is this more payback to Unions?  

Could it be she does not want to talk about IPERS (election year)  just like before the 2016 election when Collective Bargaining was not discussed but then decimated in two weeks during the 2017 legislative session? Is that the same strategy for IPERS; do not talk about it now and decimate it a year from now?  Why the war on Iowa’s public employees? 

IPERS is 81.4% funded. (Anything over 80% is considered very solid). IPERS actuaries use a conservative 7% projection so that the system stays solid. IPERS has $30 billion in assets, spent $1.8 billion that went back into Iowa’s economy, and increased its assets by $2.5 billion (11%) last year. It will be 100% funded in 27 years, like a home mortgage. It is not going broke! It has worked extremely well for 65 years. One in 10 Iowans rely on it. It is an award winning top 10% in the nation system.

Governor Reynolds quotes; (she had served on the IPERS Board) are as follows:

“As a defined benefit plan (pension) IPERS is secure, strong and sustainable. Simply put, it’s good for Iowa. There is no better run public pension system in the state than IPERS. IPERS has been a solid public pension system that is efficiently managed and serves as a model for other states. Since 1953, IPERS has helped Iowa’s public employers attract and retain a quality workforce while IPERS benefit payments help Iowans and their communities. IPERS is a powerful economic engine that helps create jobs, keeps retirees off public assistance, and provides security for all members. One in ten Iowans is an IPERS member. They are teachers, social workers, public nurses, firefighters and police, snowplow drivers, and many more who are dedicated to improving the lives of others.”

That sounds like the perfect system. That sounds like a system we should be bragging about and promoting to get families and workers to move to Iowa. Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska all have defined benefit systems for their public employees. So why won’t she or anyone from the majority party say they want to keep it and make the necessary tweaks to keep it one of the finest defined benefit systems in the nation? 

Why are we asking the Koch Brothers for input when we have Iowans like Donna Mueller, CEO of IPERS, her actuaries, the State Treasurer, who all do exceptional jobs and have sung the praises of IPERS for Iowans, Iowa’s employers, and Iowa’s employees about this fine system. Why does a Republican Senator have a bill to do away with the system starting in July 2019? Hmmm... right after NEXT years session, but we do not want to talk about it THIS SESSION even though it affects 10% of ALL Iowans and approximately 30% of the Iowa voting population.  

There are many public employees from various public sectors that I have visited with that are very concerned.

I have asked the question: do you and will you support keeping IPERS as a defined benefit system? Yes or no? I can get no straight honest answer from the Governor or anyone from the Republican Party. Why? 355,000 Iowans need to know THIS SESSION!

JOHN BROSTAD 

Storm Lake