By Keele Smith
Legislative News Service
University of Montana School of Journalism
On Friday, Montana lawmakers will discuss one of the biggest issues of the session: the state’s financially troubled pension systems.
The retirement system for state workers is currently facing a $4 billion funding shortfall.
Two Democratic-sponsored bills aim at fixing the problem by increasing contributions from employees, employers and the state.
Both bills would continue the “defined benefit” plan, which guarantees state workers a fixed, lifelong pension once they retire.
House Bill 454 would tackle the Public Employees’ Retirement System, which covers close to 47,000 state workers and retirees.
House Bill 377 would address the Teachers’ Retirement System for nearly 23,000 active and retired K-12 teachers.
Democratic Rep. Bill McChesney of Miles City says the state needs to deal with the funding shortage now.
“If we don’t fix it, the hole is going to continue to get deeper and we are going to have serious problems very soon.”