KPERS retirees say pensions payouts aren’t enough to live on anymore

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Retired Kansas public employees converged at the Capitol to demand change to their pension payouts. These retirees rely on KPERS for their pension payouts.

Some say the amount they receive hasn’t changed in years and they are asking the legislature for a cost of living adjustment (COLA).

Virgil Funk was a teacher and principal in Kansas for 38 years. He says he became an educator to positively impact Kansas students.

“We gave our lives to our jobs and we expected to be treated fairly,” said Funk.

But 22 years after his retirement, Virgil says he and many other former public employees are not being paid enough to keep up with the cost of living.

“I’m getting the same amount of money to the penny that I got in 1998,” said Funk. “We just have to sit a little tighter.”

The group is pushing for a bill to be passed that they say would give a 1-3% pay increase to retirees, depending on how long they have been retired.

Lawmakers are still debating on how to best pay down the debt owed to KPERS. Governor Kelly has suggested a re-amortization plan that would give the state an extra 10 years to pay off its debt. Her plan would also allocate 268 million dollars to pay off previously delayed payments now. Some lawmakers suggest that this is a more financially safe option.

Opponents to the Governor’s plan want to pay down the debt sooner than later. Some say it is important to make sure the plan is funded to at least 80%, so that the long-term health of KPERS will allow for the pension benefits retirees want.

“Like benefits changes, COLAs, new programs that might benefit current employees and retirees,” said Representative Jim Kelly, (R) Independence.

The KPERS re-amortization bill will be discussed by lawmakers in the House Committee on Financial Institutions and Pensions on Wednesday.

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