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Official: Governor's Budget Plan Raises Kansas' Long-Term Pension Costs $6.5B

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget proposal would delay payments into the state pension plan, KPERS. It would also take an additional 10 years to pay off a deficit in the retirement system.

Alan Conroy, executive director of KPERS, told lawmakers on the Senate Ways and Means Committee Thursday that the proposed changes would grow that unfunded liability by another $6.5 billion.

KPERS current has an unfunded liability of more than $8 billion. That’s the difference between promised benefits and projected costs.

“You can not pay it now, but it is sort of like that mortgage on the house. You can pay less now, but guess what, if you refinance you’re going to pay more down the road,” Conroy said.

Some lawmakers seem skeptical of the proposal since they have taken steps in recent years to improve the financial health of KPERS.

The governor’s office says the budget plan is still an increase in payments into KPERS over past years.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.