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Jan 15, 2014 7:59 PM by Akeam Ashford

Lawmaker Looks To Improve State Retirement System

A St. Landry Parish lawmaker wants to see an increase in retirement pay for state employees.

According to the Louisiana State Employees' Retirement Program, the state pays more than $1.13 billion in benefits to more than 45,000 retirees.

Regular rank-and-file employees average just under $2,000 a month.

Today, there are 44,000 active state employees in Louisiana.

With all of the state's budget issues, and as the 2014 legislative session draws near, State Senator Elbert Guillory has pre-filed Senate Bill three (SB-3), which he hopes will adjust state employee retirement pay. He says it would bring it in line with the current cost of living increases.

"When they retired they had a decent living and that living over the years has gone down and down. This happens because the cost of living has gone up and up," Guillory said.

At the same time, Guillory is afraid the state will run out of money. He says, retired workers have already been promised a pension, but what's actually in the bank can't cover that amount.

"We can not let these retirement systems go on. They're almost $20 billion dollars under funded," Guillory said.

The obvious questions remains, if the state is under funded now, how are future retirees going to be paid more?

Guillory says Senate Bill five (SB-5), also known as "Penny a Pull", will put enough money in the state retirement system to help fund future retirees' pensionS.

"People who go to the casino to gamble, either to play slot machines or video poker, each time they pull the lever, we would like for them to pay one penny. That penny would go toward the state retirement system," Guillory said.

Guillory hasn't said how much the program will generate. He says it's in the early stages of becoming a law.

The State Employees' Retirement Program says it hasn't endorsed Guillory's plan at this point.

They tell us, they typically meet with lawmakers just before session to determine if they will endorse a bill.

The 2014 legislative session starts March 10th.

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