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Senate rejects retirement study

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The Senate has rejected a study of the state’s retirement system.

The original bill was designed to raise contributions to the PERS retirement fund by one percent for both employees and the state. That was changed to a study, to take a look at converting the state retirement plan from a “defined benefit” plan to a “defined contribution” plan.

That increased contribution was to be part of a multi-step plan to make the PERS fund solvent, going forward. The Legislature did approve a cut in the “benefit multiplier” for new state employees, from 2 to 1.75. But lawmakers turned down Governor Burgum’s proposal to  put $265 million into the fund.

Sen. Dick Dever (R-Bismarck) said the House has been refusing to add money to fix the plan.

"So here we sit, once again," Dever said. "And we've done this before -- reducing benefits, without putting money into the plan."

Dever told the Senate there is a $1.1 billion unfunded liability in the PERS plan.

"That's not because it's a bad investment," Dever said. "But it's because we have refused to support it."

Dever told the Senate the issue of “defined contribution” has been studied before, and there’s no need to do it again.

The bill -- which had been amended in a conference committee -- failed unanimously.

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