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Poolman: State employee retirement, pay to be considered after March revenue forecast

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A state senator from Bismarck said once the new state revenue forecast is released – in March – the Legislature can move forwards with plans to help take care of the unfunded liability in the Public Employees Retirement plan.

That – after the Senate rejected a proposal from Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) for the state to increase its contributions to the PERS plan by one percent, with the employee contribution also upped by one percent.

"We kmow that down the road, at some point, we're going to have to address this," Sen. Nicole Poolman (R-Bismarck) said in an interview. "It's cheaper to address it sooner rather than later."

Poolman said she anticipates the Legislature will try to find a way, whether it's through a cash infusion, or those increases, to try and shore up the PERS plan.

The plan has a $1.4 billion unfunded liability.

Poolman said it's important to take care of that, because haviing that much unfunded liability on the books could affect North Dakota's bond rating.

And Poolman said there’s potentially another option – federal money from the next round of COVID relief.

"We don't know if that will still be an allowable expense or investment for states to utilize," Poolman said. "But it's definitely a discussion in the hallways, that it could be a good one-time use for that."

That COVID relief package is still pending on Congress.

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