The financially challenged Arkansas State Police Retirement System would become the state police division of the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System under a proposal endorsed last week by the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Public Retirement and Social Security Programs.

The merger would become effective July 1 if the legislature approves a bill pending in the Arkansas Senate.

The state police pension board opposes the plan proposed by Sen. Steve Faris, D-Central.

Steve Osborn, an actuary for the committee, said the state’s contribution to the new system would be about $800,000 a year less than with the existing structure, with the potential for longer-term savings of up to $1.5 million a year.

The state contributed $11.6 million to the state police retirement system in fiscal 2008.

The police system includes 555 working members and 445 retirees and beneficiaries. There are also 82 participants in a deferred retirement plan.

The public employees system includes 44,357 working members and 21,761 retirees.

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