In case you missed it, here is an Editorial that appeared in the Portsmouth Herald on May 7th.
Kudos go to Bradley for responsible pension bill
May 07, 2011
Thumbs up to State Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, for his responsible leadership of efforts to reform the New Hampshire Retirement System.
At this point, most everyone in the state agrees that the system's roughly $4.7 billion unfunded liability needs to be addressed immediately. Further, there is a general agreement on the factors that got our usually responsible state into the mess it's in when it comes to paying the pensions of teachers, police, firefighters and other state, county and local employees. And it needs to be stated again that the workers are not at fault.
That said, the House and Senate have come up with very different plans, which have been sent to a conference committee for negotiations. We hope the final plan that emerges has more Senate and less House.
Sen. Bradley has done a remarkable thing since first introducing Senate Bill 3. He's actually gone out and spoken with and — perhaps even more remarkable — he's listened to people who disagree with him. The result is a bill that would be strong medicine for all, but is fair, addresses the pension system's shortfall over time and respects the hard work put in by the vast majority of pension candidates. What has been earned by vested workers is kept by vested workers, and changes to workers who are not vested (have less than 10 years on the job) reflect the number of years worked instead of treating a worker with nine years on the job the same as someone just off probation.
The House, on the other hand, seems to be shooting spitballs from the sidelines and has included provisions in its plan that are simply ridiculous.
Both the House and Senate agree that police and firefighters will need to work more years and retire at a later age than they do now. Both agree contributions of all public workers need to rise. But the House has also included "poison pill" language that would punish workers if they sue over pension reform. In other words, the House is actually trying to constrain the rights of pensioners to seek redress in court of injustice. For a body that spends so much time quacking about the Constitution, this provision seems to be completely unconstitutional. The Senate wisely removed the poison pill, the House put it back in and we hope this idiotic measure is removed by the conference committee.
The House also tacked on its loathsome provision to make union workers "at-will" if they don't settle a new contract before their old contract expires. As we have stated previously, this weights the scales completely in the favor of employers who will have no incentive to negotiate a new contract when they can just wait until it expires and then deal with far less powerful, at-will employees instead of engaging in collective bargaining.
The Senate, under Bradley's leadership, is trying to solve a problem. The House is just continuing to do what it has done the entire five months its members have been in power — attack the state's working men and women.
We urge public workers to continue their dialogue with Sen. Bradley. He has proven himself reasonable. The state pension has serious problems but they can be solved. This much needed legislation should not be used as a tool to beat up public workers. Let's work with Sen. Bradley and solve our state pension problem.