Legislature invents emergency

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, April 24, 2005

Once a year the Legislature wrestles over a large list of bills that in many cases are just "make work." Instead of working on real serious problems facing the people of this state, they make up emergencies and squander days and weeks with political infighting in order to get their name in the news. A recent example was the bills concerning the State Employees Retirement System.

In spite of all the rhetoric, there never was any emergency concerning the state retirement system. The only real problem was the commissioner of administration, the director of retirement and benefits, and some hired "experts" that had made some serious financial mistakes. Instead of owning up to the situation they decided to "throw the baby out with the bath water." The solution was to get rid of the TRS/PERS boards and ASPIB who had been very successful and replace it with a bunch of hand picked lackeys selected by the governor. Then add another retirement tier that will hamstring the ability of the state to hire qualified personnel and make retirement for those, unlucky enough to be hired under that tier, very poor indeed when retirement finally comes.

There is an old saying, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." That's what is happening here in Alaska. There are certain actions the state can take that will give certain people in powerful positions even more power. Expending very large sums of money or placing key people in control of extremely large sums of money are some of those actions. The State Employees Retirement System is worth more than $15 billion. It is no wonder to me that those in power will say and do anything to perpetuate their positions and to get control of that money. Do not be fooled into thinking that this is politics as usual. This is a power grab and every Alaskan will be impacted by it. Call your legislators today and let them know that fooling with something that isn't broke is a waste of time. Tell them to leave the State Employees Retirement System alone. We have real problems in this state, and that isn't one of them.

John A. Marshall


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