Special Session Turns to Pension Bill
The Missouri House passed the bill on Tuesday on a vote of 92 to 54.
HB1 would raise the age of retirement from 62 to 65. It would also require newly-hired state employees to pay four percent of their salary into a pension fund. It would not affect those who already work for the state. Opponents of the bill are afraid this mandatory payment will hurt the quality of workers the state hires.
"I support our workers and there are other ways our state can save money rather than doing this," said Democratic State Representative Mary Still of Columbia.
However, the bill's sponsor, Republican Jim Viebrock of Republic, says this bill will save money without compromising quality.
"[Missouri will save] about $16 million in immediate savings and roughly about $150 million over the next ten years, so it's a substantial savings to the state," said Viebrock.
Viebrock also thinks the bill wouldn't affect the quality of Missouri's state employees.
"I'd like to think that people who work for the government are here to serve," he said. "They usually know what they're getting into."
However, opponents like Still believe there are other ways to save the state money.
"Missouri has the lowest cigarette prices in the nation," she said. "If we raised the cigarette tax by 12 cents per pack, we could still have the lowest prices in the nation and we'd raise $73 million a year for Missouri."
The Senate will vote on the bill later this week. This is just one bill being discussed in the current special session. Legislators were hopeful the session would be over quickly, but it's taking longer than expected.
The Governor's office says that each week of the special session costs the state $125,000.