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W.Va. lawmakers moderate public pension cuts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Representatives of numerous public employee unions let out a collective sigh of relief after lawmakers reworked a bill that would have taken away the benefits for employees hired since 2010.

Although initially scheduled to be discussed during a Thursday morning Senate Finance Committee, Senate Bill 529 underwent changes prior to a second afternoon meeting. Before the bill’s alteration, it would have provided a “significant cutback in benefits” for some state employees.

The original version would have placed any employee paying into the Public Employees Retirement System hired after July 1, 2010, into a secondary tier, changing some of their benefits.

Any Tier 2 employees would not have been able to use any accrued sick leave time by state employees to purchase retirement service credit, which is currently allowed. The bill would have also required Tier 2 employees to increase their member contributions, from 4.5 percent to 6 percent.

The original version of the bill would have immediately helped save millions of dollars but that concerned several different organizations, which would have been affected.

Elaine Harris, Communications Works of America representative, said the effects “would have been huge…

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