The House of Representative’s Labor and Human Resources committee will today hear a bill that would affect retirement benefits of educators.
House Bill 64, sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, would amend the Educational Retirement Act in ways such as increasing the ERB fund contribution rates of certain members, changing the benefits for new members and delaying the cost-of-living-adjustment eligibility.
For example, the bill would instate that a member of a local admin istrative unit whose annual salary is greater than $20,000 would contribute ten and one-tenth (10 1/10) percent to the fund from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. On and after July 1, 2014, the rate would become ten and seven-tenths (10 7/10) percent.
Committee member Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, said her concern with the bill is that it would put the burden of providing for pension funds on the shoulders of potential new teachers and possibly even prevent them from wanting to work in the state.
“We have to make sure funds are solvent for both ERB and PERA,” she said. “I know that we have to have a fix, but this isn’t the fix.
“We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”
The bill also has been assigned to two other house committees, Ezzell said, which means “it’s going to be put through a very rigorous test.”
While she said it was possible the bill could be amended into one that would be more agreeable, “it’s got to be a realistic deal.”
“We will not be able to hire any new teachers if this bill passes,” she said.
She encourages residents of the Roswell area to read the bill, which is available online at nmlegis.gov, and contact legislators with feedback.
“They need to be very aware of what this may do to their retirement,” she said.