Washington Treasurer Jim McIntire Tuesday announced a plan, backed by lawmakers from both parties, to reform the state’s pension system.
The efforts are focused on the most generous tiers in the state pension system, which were closed to new entrants in 1977.
Those two closed tiers have an unfunded liability of almost $7 billion, in contrast to the 10 pension systems open to current employees, which are 118% funded, according to McIntire.
“Washington led the nation in closing down its 'California-style’ benefit plans in 1977,” McIntire said.
McIntire, a Democrat, said it is important to honestly address the shortfalls in the older plans.
He wants a constitutional amendment requiring government to adhere to strict actuarial principles to fund public pensions.
“Properly funding these systems now and consistently paying into them over time will keep the cost of providing these benefits to a minimum in the future, which will save the taxpayers’ money and will allow budget writers flexibility on funding choices,” he said.
Requirements that would be imposed by the constitutional amendment include a mandate to pay at least 80% of any pension plan’s actuarially recommended contribution rates each year, and establishment of a fixed payment schedule for the unfunded liabilities of the generous older pension plans.