It has become apparent from the Legislative hearings and general discussion on the street that the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS) needs reform. As a person who will never directly receive benefits from the system, I am not, however, out of the loop. Many of us who are not government employees, are small business owners, or rent an apartment in our homes to help to pay off mortgages.
If the GERS collapses, a number of things could happen. First, retirees face the possibility of losing their present annuities, or receiving them at a reduced rate. They, in turn, will be unable to pay for the basics like rent, food, clothing, water, power, telephone service, health insurance, personal loans, car payments, gasoline, bus and taxi fares. Who else is affected? All of those who provide these very necessary services.
Additionally, if the system collapses, those who are currently in the system and looking forward to a pleasant retirement, could suddenly realize that they have just lost their contributions. Can anyone really afford this, especially with Social Security facing similar problems? If Social Security becomes unable to pay benefits at the expected rate, what will happen if those counting on Social Security and a pension from GERS are unable to get one, the other, or both for their retirement years?
It makes good sense to press for reforms to our GERS to ensure its basic financial health. For government employees currently contributing to the System, reform may very well mean the difference between receiving an annuity and getting none. It is time to put all politics aside and demand that our Legislative and Executive branches of government pass reform measures for GERS that will ultimately benefit everyone. A financially healthy GERS helps to assure a healthy local economy.
Erva A. Denham
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