Government

Key lawmaker plans 'special announcement' about IPERS legislation

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann

 R-Wilton
Rep. Bobby Kaufmann R-Wilton

DES MOINES — Iowa House State Government Committee Chairman Bobby Kaufmann is promising a “special announcement” when the committee meets Tuesday.

He may have stolen his own thunder in his weekly newsletter to his House 73 constituents.

“I said it before the election and I will say it again: There will unequivocally not be changes to IPERS,” he wrote.

Kaufmann, a fourth-term Republican from Wilton, was adamant in the run-up to the legislative session that he would not entertain changes to the public employee retirement system that 350,000 Iowa public employees rely on for retirement income.

“Sadly, there was never going to be an effort to do that, but political groups led you to believe that for political purposes,” he said in his newsletter.

Kaufmann has scheduled a presentation by IPERS CEO Donna Mueller at the 11 a.m. State Government Committee meeting in Room 103 at the Capitol.

That, according to Kaufmann’s agenda, will be followed by a “special announcement” by him regarding IPERS legislation.

Late in the 2018 campaign, Democrats and public employee unions toured the state to warn Iowans that Gov. Kim Reynolds and Republican legislators would gut IPERS.

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According to IPERS, it paid $1.9 billion in benefits last year, including $1.7 billion to retirees in Iowa. The average recipient received $17,000. In Linn County, 5,951 people received nearly $106 million last year. In Johnson County, 3,125 received $55 million in benefits.

The same groups continued to push their message on the opening day of the legislative session. They wanted to remind lawmakers of the “strong promises they made during their campaigns to stay away from IPERS,” Yvonne Hogan said at a news conference organized by the Progress Iowa group.

However, a spokesman for House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, called it “fake news” that Republicans would change IPERS from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution plan.

“The unions are telling people that,” added Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. “The state leaders that actually make that decision aren’t telling people that. We’re not going to do that.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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