N.H. House Approves Move to DC Plan

March 30, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a proposal to end the defined benefit plan for public workers and switch to a 401(k)-style plan.

House GOP leaders pressed ahead with making the move by November 1 to a defined contribution plan less than a day after the state Senate voted to punt on the issue and create a 17-person commission to study it, according to the Nashua Telegraph. The House approved the proposal despite an actuarial report last year that stated if the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) eliminates its public pension program to develop the 401(k)-type plan, it would add $237 million to a $3.7 billion unfunded liability (see “Report for New Hampshire System Finds Switch to 401(k) May be Costly“).  

The news report said last year, the Republican-led Legislature raised the retirement age for future public safety workers and made all employees contribute more to their pensions. The state’s retirement plan and companion medical subsidy for some pensioners faced an unfunded liability in excess of $4.1 billion.  

State Rep. Neal Kurk said all the changes to date still have allowed unacceptably high rates paid for by local property taxpayers who employed retirees.  

The Nashua Telegraph reports Rep. Kenneth Hawkins chairs a House special committee on retirement reform that brought in experts from Utah, a pioneering state in the innovation. Hawkins stated: “We have worked very, very hard on this issue, and we will continue to perfect what will be a uniquely New Hampshire program.”