State worker retirement plan change delayed

BATON ROUGE,(AP) — Both the House and Senate unanimously agreed Monday to delay by one year the start of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to shift future rank-and-file state workers to a 401(k)-style retirement plan.

A suspension of the law until July 1, 2014, would give lawmakers time to have some outstanding issues resolved.

A district court judge has ruled the retirement plan unconstitutional. That ruling is on appeal. Meanwhile, leaders of two state retirement systems have raised concerns about tax implications.

The retirement change, approved by lawmakers last year, created an investment account similar to a 401(k) plan for certain state employees hired after July 1. That would stand in place of a monthly retirement payment based on salary and years of employment.

No legislation has made it through both chambers and received final passage yet, however. The House version (House Concurrent Resolution 2) heads to the Senate for debate, while the Senate version (Senate Concurrent Resolution 1) moves to the House.

A proposal that would allow schools taken over by the Recovery School District to be returned back to local control if that school has earned a “D” or “F” for three consecutive years was unanimously approved by the House.

Under the bill (House Bill 115) proposed by Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, schools could be returned to local school system’s control if parents of a majority of the students sign a petition making the request.

The measure moves to the Senate for debate.

The community and technical college system would be able to get construction financing outside of the traditional budget process, under a bill backed by the Senate in a 30-6 vote, over the opposition of the state’s top higher education board.

The measure (Senate Bill 204) by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, moves to the House for discussion. Adley described the need for upgrades and expansion as “dire.”

The Board of Regents, which oversees all higher education managing boards, opposes the bill as an end-run around the regular construction budget process that all other public colleges must follow.

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