Kansas lawmakers vote to use $1.1 billion to bolster retirement system


Kansas State Senator Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City, speaks in favor of giving retired teachers and government employees a one-time bonus or increased cost of living for their benefits, Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Statehouse in Topeka. , Kan. Pettey opposed a bill that injects $1.1 billion of excess public funds into the state’s retirement system because it also doesn’t provide for the bonus or cost-of-living increases.John Hanna/AP

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have voted to commit more than $1.1 billion in excess state funds to bolster the state’s retirement system for teachers and government workers.

The Republican-controlled state Senate voted 26 to 10 on Thursday for a bill that would put the funds into the retirement system by the end of the year. The GOP-controlled House approved the measure last month, and it skips Democratic Governor Laura Kelly.

The Legislative Assembly opened its session in January, with the state predicting it would end in June 2023 with record cash reserves of nearly $3.8 billion. The state pension fund has a $4.4 billion gap between its projected funding and its long-term commitments for retiree benefits, the result of decades of lawmakers and governors cutting annual pension contributions. ‘State.

Kelly’s presumptive GOP opponent in this year’s gubernatorial race, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, had called for investing $1 billion in the retirement system. Kelly instead proposed giving a $250 rebate to every Kansas resident who filed a state tax return last year for 2020.

Most Democrats in the Senate voted against the bill after some unsuccessfully argued that some excess funds should be used to give retirees either a one-time bonus or an increase in their benefits based on the cost of living.

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