Over the last week, Iowans have heard a lot about the future of IPERS, which is the retirement system for about 1 in 10 Iowans.
Today, IPERS pays out $1.6 billion to retirees every year in Iowa. That money is big part of Iowa’s economy and the promise of a secure retirement is used to attract and maintain a quality work workforce to teach our kids and keep our communities safe. Unlike some other states, IPERS is fundamentally sound and one of the best run systems in the country.
I’ve heard from many Iowans concerned about the future of IPERS. And they have every right to be concerned about their retirement security.
When Kim Reynolds was preparing to take over as Governor, she said making changes to IPERS was one of her top priorities. She told a group of Republicans at a fundraiser that IPERS “is not sustainable” and she was looking for private companies that could set up a 401(k) style plan instead. (Quad City Times, 1/26/17)
Second, Republican lawmakers introduced a bill last year to end IPERS (Senate File 45) and do what the Governor suggested. After the bill was introduced, Republican leaders twice invited a special interest group to testify against IPERS at the State Capitol.
Third, the Speaker of House Linda Upmeyer has actually voted for a bill that created a 401(k) style plan that would divert money away from IPERS. (HSB 512, House State Government Committee Vote, 3/2/06)
The Governor’s comments, the Republican bill, and the Speaker of the House voting to change the system aren’t fiction, they are facts. The Republican alternatives are real and would put the retirement of 1 out of 10 Iowans in jeopardy.
Considering the last two years, it’s no wonder Iowans are asking tough questions and concerned about the future of IPERS under Republican one-party rule at the State Capitol.
Remember when Republican lawmakers said they were “tweaking” Iowa’s collective bargaining law? Instead, they gutted the law and stripped away the rights of teachers, public safety officials, and other state workers.
Remember when Republican lawmakers said they were going to make healthcare more accessible? Instead, they closed down four health care clinics and allowed insurance companies to deny care to Iowans with pre-existing conditions.
Remember when Republican lawmakers said Medicaid privatization would save the state money and improve care? Instead, Medicaid costs are rising and Iowans are being denied services.
When Iowans hear talking points from Republican lawmakers and the Governor, they should be sure to ask them the tough questions about their own record on changing IPERS. It tells a completely different story.