A crucial pension reform Congress must enact

John MoorlachBy John Moorlach | Regardless of what else is done, here’s the missing piece Congress and President Trump must add to the tax reform they’re working on: public-employee pension reform. What good is it if you get $500 in tax cuts from the federal government if your state and local taxes rise $1,000 to pay for burgeoning pensions for government workers?

The key: Revoke IRS Revenue Ruling 2006-43. It prevents allowing public employees the option of reducing defined benefit pension benefits in exchange for better pay. Dumping the rule would help not only taxpayers, but the public employees themselves.

I’m the only CPA in the legislature of the largest state, so please let me explain the situation for our representatives in Washington. In 2009, the County of Orange negotiated a strategy that allowed county employees, at their choice, to move from a traditional defined benefit retirement plan to a hybrid, comprising a lower defined benefit formula, combined with an employer-matching, 401(k) plan of 2 percent of wages.

This reform also would have meant approximately a 7 percent increase in net pay for county employees electing to do so, with no added cost to taxpayers. That especially would have helped struggling young families. And it would have eased the underfunded pension crises now facing the county.

To read the entire commentary on the Voice of OC website, please click here.

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