LETTER: Clarifying rumors on state proposalsOver the last several weeks, I have heard from many people with concerns about changes to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) or the Employee Trust Fund (ETF).
To the Editor:
Over the last several weeks, I have heard from many people with concerns about changes to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) or the Employee Trust Fund (ETF). I would like to clear up a few of the misconceptions and correct some of the misinformation regarding a study that was included in the budget.
Contrary to some of the rumors I have heard, there are no proposals to privatize the WRS or ETF. There was a provision in the budget that called for a study to be done of the ETF. The study is to take a look at two things; one, establishing a defined contribution plan as an option for participating employees; and two, permitting employees to not make employee-required contributions and limiting retirement benefits for employees who do not make employee-required contributions to a money purchase annuity.
The language for those two aspects of the study comes directly from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary of the budget. The study is about providing additional options for employees. There are people who would prefer a defined contribution plan as an option for their retirement and this study will look into the feasibility of providing that option. The study does not say that this will be mandatory.
Additionally, I heard from many people who felt it was unfair that they couldn’t opt out of making the employee-required contribution. This study will look into the feasibility of providing that option to employees who would also have full knowledge of the limits attached to choosing not to make those contributions.
This study was included in the budget for the purpose of providing options to state employees, not to mandate any changes to the Employee Trust Fund. If you have any additional questions regarding this study, please contact me by phone toll-free at (888) 529-0028 or email me at rep.severson @legis.wi.gov.
State Rep. Erik Severson