Powerless over PERA?

Last April, the Faculty and Staff Newsletter published a letter I submitted on the topic of the 2.5 percent pay cut PERA employees received for FY11. At the time, I wrote, "(B)oth PERA and the state have proven that they can reach into our pockets and change the rules anytime things don't go their way." When the new proposed state budget is passed, PERA employees will enjoy an extension of the "temporary" 2.5 percent pay cut for an additional year.

Meanwhile, non-PERA employees face no similar cut. In fact, non-PERA Social Security contributing employees will enjoy a 2 percent pay raise in CY11 on the first $106,800 of salary. I don't begrudge them but this strikes me as an inequitable set of circumstances. I will have lived through four years of stagnant salary, two of them in retrograde, and a reduced PERA pension to look forward to.

What irks me most is knowing that the rules of the PERA-defined benefit game can change at any time; this leaves me with a sense of powerlessness. Personally, I'd rather be the rule-maker in a defined contribution plan and have only myself to hold accountable.

Barry Northrop
Assistant Director of Policies and Procedures, Accounting and Business Support