CHARLES CITY | The Charles City School Board does not support unfavorable changes to Iowa's retirement system for public employees, according to a resolution board members approved Monday.
Board members during a meeting earlier this week approved a resolution which states district employees are "entitled to basic protections and promises that the state has made to them, including the right to expect that IPERS not be changed negatively nor the benefits of current or future employees be put at risk."
The resolution states changes to IPERS would "diminish retirement security and predictability will hurt employee morale and lead to the inability to attract and retain dedicated, well-trained, experienced, and conscientious public servants."
Some Republicans, including former Gov. Terry Branstad, have said the state public workers retirement system requires changes in order to make the program sustainable for the long-term so workers continue to receive the benefits they expect.
During a press conference in December, statehouse Democrats warned Republicans may propose changes for IPERS — and that those changes could mean fewer benefits paid out for retirees.
The Charles City School Board "feels strongly about IPERS and protections for public employees," Superintendent Dan Cox said Tuesday, noting the resolution was passed on by the Iowa State Education Association. The association is a union for teachers statewide.
Cox said board members have been "really good advocates for public education" and have annually lobbied at the state Capitol the past three years. The resolution will be shared with the governor's office and state legislators.
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The Iowa Association of School Boards, a statewide organization for elected school board members, said via email Tuesday it "agrees employee benefits are critical to attracting and retaining qualified employees," according to a statement from Communications Director Tammy Votava.
"Actuarial soundness and affordability of any pension program is critical, and we believe the IPERS Board/BAC as well as legislative leaders are right in closely monitoring IPERS for that actuarial soundness and affordability," the statement said.
Three leading state Republicans — Gov. Kim Reynolds, Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer and Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix — all said they do not expect any IPERS-related legislation to move during this year’s legislative session.
“They’re just trying to stir up trouble,” Dix said of Democrats’ warnings. “As we look at this session, I do not anticipate an extensive debate on the subject.”
Senate Republicans may hold some hearings and presentations on the subject during this year’s session, and that the state’s public worker pension programs may need changes in the future — but not this year, according to Dix.
“One thing that Iowans really should expect, especially people within the IPERS system, is that long-term you have a sustainable system there,” Dix said.
Iowa Rep. Dawn Pettengill, R-Mount Auburn, chairwoman of the joint House-Senate Public Systems Committee, said there "will be no changes to IPERS or any other Iowa pension systems in the upcoming session," according to an opinion column published in the Quad City Times this week.