Legislative committee rejects changes to state employee retirement and medical plans

Dec 5, 2018

The Legislature’s Employee Benefits Committee has decided against recommending three bills that would change the state’s retirement system, and require state employees to pay part of their insurance coverage for family members.

Two of the measures would have changed the retirement plan from a “defined benefit” plan to a “defined contribution” plan, and would have taken some money from the Legacy Fund to pay off the unfunded balance of the current retirement system. The other bill would have required the public employee with a family insurance plan to pay 15 percent of the difference between a single premium and a family premium.

"The committee felt that, since state employees have not had a raise for two years, that it wouldn't be fair for us to say, 'Now you need to pay into your health care as well," said the committee chairman, Rep. Mike Lefor (R) of Dickinson.

"If we were to institute this, where they would have to pay for their family plan, they would actually be getting less money than they got three years ago."

Lefor also said changing the retirement plan is very complicated, and needs further study.

"It's more complex than saying we're going to go from 'A' to 'B,'" Lefor said.

"We need that benefit in order to recruit and retain public employees," Mathern said.

The bill's sponsors could introduce the measures on their own in the 2019 session.