Connecticut Study Group Eyes Possible Ways to Plug State’s Pension Gap

Officials point to state lotto, real estate, and benefits changes to help decrease the $127.8 billion shortfall.

Legislators  on Connecticut’s Pension Sustainability Commission suggested lottery revenue, earnings from state-owned real estate, and changes to state employee benefits as ways that the state could help plug its $127.8 billion pension hole.

“The idea is that they would be dedicated solely to the pension funds,” Rep. Fred Wilms of Norwalk said Monday, reports The Hour.

Wilms, who was appointed to the sustainability commission by House Republican Leader Themis Klarides two weeks ago, also proposed that raising employee contributions, moving new hires into 401(k) plans, and other benefit restructuring in addition to lotto and property proceeds would help as well.

“In exchange for that, the contribution from the state assets would ensure greater retirement security for the pensions,” he said.

The group was established in June during a special legislative session. Its role is to explore the feasibility of puttting state assets in a trust whose appreciation could stabilize Connecticut’s ailing pension system.

“Everybody from the gubernatorial candidates down are talking about some need to find further savings in pensions costs [including non-state assets],” state  Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, a Westport Democrat and the commission’s chair, said. 

He told the local news outlet that the taskforce, which has met three times since July, has been determining which state-owned properties might be best to help slow the situation, adding that development, sale, and leasing of these areas could help add to their value.

“If we are to avoid massive deficits in the future, we need to have a frank discussion about retirement benefits, consider their impact on Connecticut, and make structural changes in the way Hartford has been doing business,” Wilms wrote in a recent email to constituents in his district, The Hour reported.

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