Boucher proposes bill to address state employee benefits

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) and state Rep. Fred Wilms (R-142) have introduced a bill that will realign  non-union state employee benefits to private sector levels. Senate Bill 88: An Act Concerning Retirement and Health Care Benefits for Certain State Employees covers benefits such as pensions, health care, and post-retirement health care (OPEB).

“Employee compensation makes up almost 40% of state spending,” Boucher said. “If we are serious about solving the state’s fiscal crisis, we must recognize that we can no longer afford these generous benefit packages.”

Rep. Wilms said, “State employees benefits vastly exceed what most other Americans receive. Like businesses have done, we must pare back what we offer to ensure we can continue to provide the programs and services Connecticut residents need.”

According to a press release, the bill would require non-union state employees to convert to 401K-style pension plans and participate in a high-deductible health care plan.

Under the existing defined benefit plans and retiree health care plans, the state faces more than $50 billion in future unfunded liabilities because taxpayers must assume the risks of actuarial underperformance. Proposed bill SB-88 would remove these risks.

Unionized state employees and retirees would continue receiving the benefits spelled out in their pre-existing union contracts. Bill SB-88 only applies to non-unionized employees, including the governor and all state legislators.

“Leadership starts at the top,” Rep. Wilms said. “Legislators and the governor should be subject to the same benefit rules that apply to state employees.”

The bill has been referred to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations.