House Speaker Announces Members of Special Committee on Defined Contribution Retirement Plans for Public Employees

CONCORD – House Speaker William O’Brien today announced the formation of the Special House Committee on Defined Contribution Retirement Plans for Public Employees, which will consist of 11 House members. The special committee will research and recommendations on the details and the procedures for the transition from the current defined benefit plan applicable to New Hampshire public employees to a defined public employee contribution plan for all new state employee hires, and for other New Hampshire local and county governments that may elect to participate.  The Committee is further authorized to issue requests for proposals/information from potential vendors, study the proposals received, and recommend legislation to implement a defined public employee contribution plan based on one or more proposals. The following House members are appointed to the Committee: Rep. Will Smith, Chairman; Rep. Neal Kurk; Rep. David Hess; Rep. Carol McGuire; Rep. Spec Bowers; Rep. Greg Hill; Rep. Tom Keane; Rep. Steve Winter; Rep. David Campbell; Rep. Robert Foose; and Rep. Steve Shurtleff

House Speaker William O’Brien

“The New Hampshire retirement system has an estimated unfunded pension liability of $3.7 billion and another $1.5 billion in other unfunded post-employment benefits. The current level of benefits for public employees is unsustainable and taxpayers just can’t foot the bill in this recessionary climate. I’m confident this Committee will work quickly and thoroughly to move toward a Defined Contribution Plan that will save taxpayers money while also bringing about long-term solvency to the system.”

Rep. Will Smith, Chairman of Special House Committee on Defined Contribution

“States’ retiree pensions and other benefits represent a nation-wide problem, with long-term cost estimated at $2.73 trillion, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States. Just as the private sector has done to remedy a broken retirement system, we need to move New Hampshire’s public sector toward replacing defined benefit pension plans with defined contribution plans to ensure the system is financially sound, while at the same time providing fair benefits to the employee. Uncertainties in future market returns, rapid increases in medical costs, increases in life expectancy, and slower growth in public sector employment require a more prudent long-term approach to assure financial viability.  Defined contribution plans give an employee the ability to build family wealth in face of job mobility and inflationary pressures. The special committee will work hard to review, research and evaluate information to make recommendations to the House for this transition.”