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House Committees Makes Major Changes to Pension Reform Bill

The state pension system would not transition to a hybrid 401K-style plan in an amended version of the pension reform bill.The amended bill also only allows plans to set up a new 11-person committee to provide direct oversight over the pension systems.And cost of living adjustments are no longer banned under the bill, but can only be allowed if there is a surplus in the retirement systems or if lawmakers prepay for the expense.The House State Government Committee passed the amended Senate Bill 2 on Tuesday on a party line vote. Many Republican members passing on their votes.The changes upset the GOP state representatives on the committee, because it changed major tenants of a task force recommendation to fix the struggling pension system.State Rep. Brad Montell, a Shelbyville Republican, said the amended bill will fail if the House progresses with it."And Mr. Chairman it simply is not gonna work. I can tell ya,  it may pass the House, but it's not gonna pass the Senate and we're no better off," Montell said.Brent Yonts, a Greenville Democrat and the committee chairman, said the House included their changes to help stabilize the pension system, which he felt the original bill didn't do."We gotta have some certainty, we don't want them falling on another system we got up here, Medicaid, SSI or whatever it may be because they made bad choices. They gives them some stability, some certainty and some humanity and a lifestyle guaranteeing replacement of income once one retires," Yonts said.But many GOP members of the House committee rejected the House version, urging the Democratic majority to returned to the original bill that were recommendations of a task force.A companion bill that will provide revenue to help fully pay for the pension systems is also moving through the House Appropriations and Revenue committee. It is expected to allow for possible revenues from Instant Racing and online lottery sales to help pay for the underfunded system.But the committee chairman, Brent Yonts, says the original bill would have cost more and provided less certainty for state workers and the pension systems.A companion bill dealing with revenue to help pay for pensions is also moving through the House.

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