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Tuesday, April 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Loertscher: ‘Just felt like it probably shouldn’t go on the agenda’

House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said he decided not to put reconsideration of HCR 42, on state retirees' cost-of-living increases, on the agenda for today's committee meeting because he didn't want to have to take public testimony, including comments from PERSI officials. "I just felt like it probably shouldn't go on the agenda," Loertscher told reporters after the meeting. "I just didn't think we wanted to open it up again. ... We had a lot of public input yesterday."

Loertscher said, "Time is of the essence here." The Legislature can't block the scheduled 1 percent COLA for state retirees - scheduled to take place in March - unless both houses approve it by the 45th day of the legislative session, which falls next Wednesday. "This just finally occurred to us a week ago, basically," Loertscher said. "It was thought prudent by leadership and others here that we needed to take action on this."

Loertscher said the new actuarial report he relied on was brought to his attention after yesterday's committee meeting by former state lawmaker and GOP activist Rod Beck, who said he found it on the Internet. Rep. Russ Mathews, R-Idaho Falls, said he was "livid" when he saw the report. Loertscher said he was horrified to discover that PERSI has a $3 billion unfunded liability, and compared it to General Motors. Rep. Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert, said, "This unfunded liability is a serious thing ... unless the economy turns around. ... There is a time line on this. We don't have the luxury of waiting until next week. ... I feel bad that we didn't know about this three months ago."

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said, "When I voted yesterday I made it clear that I didn't think it was an appropriate policy to dock the retirees just because the current employees were being docked too. I made it clear that this was an actuarial issue, and with this information, which is significant, it's enough for me to change my vote."

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.