This morning House Education took up HB64, the education retirement solvency plan that reflects the consensus of the ERB stakeholders. Committee chair Rep. Mimi Stewart is sponsoring this bill and it did pass rather handily on an 11- 2 vote.

The bill raises the employee contribution for current and future employees to 10.7 percent by FY15. It also sets a minimum retirement age to age 55 and COLA eligibility to age 67 for future employees.

There were amendments attempted that would tie the COLA to solvency success and another to set a minimum retirement age of 62 for current and future employees with a 10-year grandfather provision. Both failed as committee members did not want to change the benefit package for current employees. As Rep. Dennis Roch (R-Texico) is fond of saying: "You don't move the end zones at half time."

As has been the case for months, some members don't buy the experts' assurances that this ERB plan is actuarially sound which led to the take away quote of the morning from Rep. Jimmie Hall (R-Albuquerque): "Experts are not much better than putting the Wall Street Journal on the wall and throwing a dart at it."

HB 64 goes next to House Appropriations. SB115, its twin in the Senate, is waiting to be heard in Senate Education.

Susan McKinsey, Office of Government and Community Relations