New Mexico House Offers New Pension Bailout

March 9, 2005 ( - Days after the state of New Mexico Senate approved measures requiring higher employer and employee pension payments to close a $2.4 billion shortfall, House members approved a bill only calling for higher employer payments.

The House-passed bill bumps up employers’ payments into the fund by .75% annually for 10 years, going from the current 8.65% of salary to 16.15% when fully implemented, according to an Associated Press report. That would translate into about $195 million more over 10 years for higher payments from public schools and higher education institutions, the news report said.

The legislation is intended to help shore up the financially troubled pension fund overseen by the Educational Retirement Board. The bill passed the House 44 to 21 and was sent to the Senate where lawmakers this week backed their own measure increasing pension contributions by both education employers and their employees in a move soundly attacked by critics. (See   Critics: NM Pension Funding Increase Proposal Would Hurt Teachers).

Senators also approved a measure requiring that educators who retire for a year — then return to work while also drawing their retirement pay – make nonrefundable contributions into the retirement fund. Finally, they okayed a measure to expand the Educational Retirement Board from seven to nine members, the Associated Press reported.