Head of RSA slams state legislature in speech
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
Dr. David Bronner, who runs the Retirement Systems of Alabama, blasted the legislature on Tuesday in a speech to the Alabama Education Retirees Association.
It was a speech encouraging the Education Retirees Association to fight to keep what they already have; to push lawmakers to protect the investment and savings plan already in place. And then Dr. Bronner took a step a little further.
“When you think of Alabama, you think of this legislature up here, right now, if it's unconstitutional, we'll pass it,” Bronner said.
The criticism covered nearly every issue Alabama's lawmakers are tackling this session. Bronner started with the state's refusal to expand programs, like medicaid, that would bring federal dollars to the state.
“We send Washington $1, Washington sends us $3.38. As a Wall Street guy, I'll do that trade all day with you until I pass out,” Bronner said.
The bulk of Bronner's criticism was centered on the state's prison system.
“If I was a fed right now, and I was attorney general of the United States, I would definitely indict the whole state,” Bronner said. “You are at 200 percent capacity; I think the exact number is 195 percent. California was put under federal court order at 130 percent.”
Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) is sponsoring a bill to reform the state's prison system. His plan to fix the state's problem starts with making sure ex-felons don't end up back behind bars.
“Do we want to make sure when they get out that they have adequate supervision, they have a job and are going to do something productive with themselves, or do we just want to say good luck, you're on your own, no supervision, no training, and there's a guarantee for failure that they're going to commit a new crime again?” Ward said.
“But I really love our new Senator, who is taking this issue on, so he may actually do something in this legislative time to fix this problem, or at least mitigate it to some extent,” Bronner said.
A brief moment of praise before Bronner's next comment.
“When your taxes are the 50th in America, you're not really asking the people to do what they should to make this place better. God bless you. Thank you very much.”
The Governor's budget proposal this year includes a number of tax increases in an effort to create more revenue and work towards balancing the budget.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have distanced themselves from that proposal, and they haven't even begun to work on the budget yet this session.
This week is spring break for them, so expect them to start getting down to business on the budget next week.
RSA is the primary lender to Raycom Media, our parent company.
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AARP Fraud Watch Network Launches Education Effort to Thwart Tax Identity Thieves
To coincide with Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, the AARP Fraud Watch Network this week is launching an education effort to help protect people from tax scams. Many taxpayers are not taking precautions necessary to reduce their risk of tax identity theft according to a recent national study released by the AARP Fraud Watch Network
Tax identity theft schemes involve scammers electronically filing tax returns under someone else's name to collect a tax refund. All the fraudsters need is a birth date and Social Security number. Many taxpayers make their personal information easy pickings by:
- Failing to lock their mailbox. Almost six in ten (59%) Americans do not regularly lock their mailbox, which could lead to a criminal stealing bills, tax forms and other documents that contain personal information.
- Leaving valuables exposed. Over half (54%) of Americans 18-49 have left at least one valuable personal item in their car in the last week (e.g., a purse/wallet, paystub or laptop) that could be used for identity theft.
- Failing to destroy personal information. More than one in five (21%) Americans say they never shred any of the personal documents that could be used for identity theft.
Tips for protecting against tax identity theft include:
- Mail tax returns as early in the tax season as possible before the cons beat you to it.
- Don't give out personal information unless you know who is asking for it and why they need it.
- Shred personal and financial documents.
- Know your tax preparer.
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Originally from NRTA Newsletter
Kansas Governor Proposes Using Pension Money to Cover Budget Gaps Created By His Tax Cuts
Members, we must be watchful of proposals by state officials to “use retirement monies to solve financial woes in Alabama”. We cannot afford to allow any elected officials to get their hands on the RSA funds. Read story below to see what other states are doing!
Janice J. Charlesworth
Alabama Education Retirees Association
In 2012, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a landmark bill that delivered big tax cuts to high income earners and businesses. Less than two years after that tax cut, the state's income tax revenues plummeted by a quarter-billion dollars -- and now Brownback is pushing to use money for public employees’ pensions to instead cover the state's ensuing budget shortfalls.
Brownback's proposal: Slash the state’s required pension contribution by $40 million to balance the state budget. But Kansas already has one of the worst-funded pension systems in the nation. The state was also recently sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission for not accurately disclosing the shortfalls.
Brownback, an icon of tea party economics who was re-elected in 2014, defended his proposal to divert money from the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS), telling the Wichita Eagle: “It’s kind of, uh, well where are you going to go for the funds? And I don’t like it, but it’s kind of what’s your other option if you don’t hit K-12 and higher ed with allotments?”
Brownback joins fellow Republican Gov. Chris Christie in coupling large tax cuts and credits with cuts to actuarially required pension payments. In New Jersey, Christie slashed required pension payments while signing legislation expanding tax credits to corporations, and doling out a record amount of corporate tax subsidies. Many of those subsidies have flowed to firms whose executives have made campaign contributions to Republican political organizations. Last week, New Jersey pension trustees filed a lawsuit against Christie for not making legally required contributions to the state's pension system.
Both Brownback and Christie promoted their tax cuts as instruments to boost economic growth. A recent review of federal data by the Kansas City Star found Kansas "trails most other states when it comes to job growth.” Likewise, an investigative series by Gannett newspapers recently found “New Jersey's job growth rate [is] the second worst in the nation. ... New Jersey's middle class has lost billions in income through layoffs, salary cuts and wage freezes [and] more than 100,000 job seekers have been unemployed for months on end.”
Illinois followed a somewhat similar path. For years, lawmakers did not make the full actuarially required pension payments, causing severe funding shortages in the state's pension system. While lawmakers said there was little money to meet pension obligations, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed a corporate tax cut in 2011 that is projected to cost the state more than $370 million a year in lost revenue. Two years after signing that bill, as pension funding gaps swelled, Quinn signed legislation slashing public employees' retirement benefits. An Illinois judge last month ruled that the legislation violated the state's constitution, though the ruling is being appealed.
Kansas, New Jersey and Illinois have each seen their credit ratings downgraded in recent years. That could end up increasing costs for the states when they borrow money.
Former Executive Secretary of AERA, Dr. Richard (Rick) McBride Passed Away
Dr. Richard (Rick) McBride passed away on November 19 after a long illness. His wife, Sue, said that he passed away peacefully. Dr. McBride turned 80 years old on October 18.
Dr. Rick McBride was Executive Secretary of AERA from July 1, 1987 to June 25, 2001. Under his leadership, the Alabama Education Retirees (AER) Foundation was created for the purpose of awarding scholarships to active teachers. Also, Dr. McBride began the effort to recognize retired education personnel resulting in the adoption of the legislative resolution establishing Tuesday of American Education Week as Alabama Retired Teachers’ Day!
A memorial service will was held at Whitfield United Methodist Churc in Montgomery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to their church, the Whitfield UMC, or to the AER Foundation.
Cards may be sent to Sue McBride c/o AERA 828 Washington Avenue; Montgomery, AL 36104
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