Pension 'At Risk' Funding Formula Still being Hashed Out

July 12, 2006 ( - A key lawmaker involved in the Congressional conference committee negotiations over sweeping pension reforms said lawmakers are still trying to work out a formula for determining which pension plans are "at risk" and need additional capital.

Reuters is reporting that Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican and the US Senate Finance Committee chairman, also told reporters that the final bill is expected to include limits on when pensions can use credit balances – accounting steps that make a plan look more healthy than it actually is.

“Everything we’ve been negotiating does that (restricts credit balances) to some extent,” Grassley told Reuters.

All in all, Reuters claimed, “an agreement is close” on the pension reform measure after months of what have been reported to be tough negotiations.

According to Grassley, negotiators only have “loose ends” to tie up on major issues involved in the bill, and parts of it are already being drafted into legislative language.

“There’s still some loose ends to be finalized on the major issues, but they are really loose ends,” said Grassley.

Montana Senator Max Baucus, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said he is hopeful that the committee will finish and pass the bill this month. 

“Everything’s very close,” he said.

Baucus said lawmakers have not reached a decision on proposals for special relief for struggling airlines and proposed rules for conflict-free pension investment advice.