The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate says there’s no need for public employees pondering retirement to worry about their pension. The Iowa Public Employees Retirement System, called IPERS, took a four-billion dollar hit in 2008 and Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says legislators will consider a variety of options to address the shortfall.
“We’ve not going to do anything precipitous. While I understand people being nervous, we want to assure them we’re going to go through a deliberative process. We’re going to listen to folks,” Gronstal says. “We’re going to listen to the recommendations of IPERS and try, just as we have always, to maintain the long-term solvency of our system.”
Two years ago the legislature increased the amount working public employees — like teachers — contribute into IPERS toward their own retirement. Gronstal says legislators may consider another increase in pension contributions for those who are at least 15 years away from retirement.
“It can be the kind of thing where we can come up with a set of recommendations that will sustain the system over the next 10 or 20 years,” Gronstal says. Gronstal was the legislator who led debate of the last major rewrite of IPERS policy, in 1996. Gronstal says in 2010, legislators will ensure the IPERS system is sound, but he does not expect “drastic” or major changes will be necessary.
Earlier this week, Governor Culver said there was “no need for alarm” or for immediate action to address the shortfall in the IPERS fund. Gronstal says he and Governor Culver are “on the same page” when it comes to addressing the issue.