Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats suggests Governor Chet Culver must not know “what’s going on around him.” Vander Plaats says that may be the only explanation for Culver’s “Why, me worry?” attitude about IPERS — the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System.
Culver, a Democrat who plans to seek reelection in 2010, said Tuesday there’s “no need for alarm” or for immediate legislative action to address a four-billion dollar drop in the value of the IPERS fund. Vander Plaats says Culver must not grasp the “gravity” of the situation.
“My biggest disappointment is Governor Culver’s attitude of ‘No need for alarm; we’ll just hope and wait; the stock market will rebound and if that happens, all will be o. k.,” Vander Plaats says. “This is going against the advice of experts in the field who are saying, ‘No, this is a long term problem — we’re in a deep hole that goes way beyond the stock market rebound.'”
Vander Plaats opposes a taxpayer bailout, but he says other options must be considered to keep the fund solvent.
“It starts with confronting the brutal facts and then coming up with common sense solutions,” Vander Plaats says.
The 11-member board that oversees IPERS investments will consider some options to deal with the shortfall at its meeting in November, but Vander Plaats says Culver needs to act now.
“Governor Culver needs to bring a panel of experts together, confront the brutal facts, take a look at the long-term needs of IPERS as it relates to the beneficiaries who are planning on that money at retirement, as well as the participants in IPERS at this point to make sure that we have some common sense solutions to the long-term viability of a very important retirement system,” Vander Plaats says.
Vander Plaats, a former teacher and coach, is one of the more than three-hundred-thousand Iowans who are part of IPERS through past or current employment in the public sector.