April 9, 2021
This afternoon, I testified before the House Government Operations Committee on the draft bill under consideration on proposed pension governance changes and the establishment of a pension taskforce. Though my testimony addressed many aspects of the proposal, the main point I wanted you to be aware of is this:
The pension taskforce and the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC) must not be stacked against the very state employees and teachers whom the pension system is designed to support.
In the first draft of the bill currently under consideration in House Government Operations, the composition of VPIC would be changed so that only three seats of a proposed nine-seat Committee would be filed by representatives of Labor. In the Taskforce, the proposed balance is even worse with only four seats out of a 15-seat panel held by Labor.
This is unacceptable.
With regard to the Taskforce, VSEA has instead proposed a balanced, inclusive, tri-partisan group. The legislative representation on the panel would consist of six members—one Democrat, one Republican, and one Progressive from each chamber’s Committee on Government Operations— and would be equally balanced between Labor and non-Labor seats. Our proposal for VPIC is similarly balanced.
We believe balance and inclusion is key. If you want the work of the taskforce to have credibility, and to yield a result that can be supported by our members, then you have to have balance. If this process is to have any success, we cannot allow our members, or the general public, to have the perception that the cake has already been baked. We need true, balanced collaboration and input. I believe VSEA’s plan accomplishes that.
I ask that you speak to your colleagues on the Government Operations and ask them to support VSEA’s proposal.