In Joseph Reisert’s column of March 25, he writes, “The governor and our Republican state treasurer are working actively to improve the long-term solvency of the state pension system.”

I disagree.

The Gov. Paul LePage’s budget proposal would increase the public employee’s contribution to the pension fund by an additional 2 percent of salary, but that is offset by a reduction of 2 percent of salary in the state’s contribution, so it is a wash.

The effect is a 2 percent income tax surcharge on the public employee’s pay, which goes to the general fund. This proposal would be a special tax aimed at only one sector of the state taxpayer base, which hardly seems fair.

It does nothing to improve the long-term solvency of the retirement system.

The budget proposal also seeks to further limit cost-of-living increases in public pension benefits, which seems like a short-term fix, at best. As we all know, increases in cost of living, as exemplified by the rise in gasoline and home heating oil prices, are real, and hurt public employment retirees just as much as everyone else.

Past Legislatures have been criticized for keeping taxes down by juggling the books instead of more adequately funding the state retirement system. The public employees have contributed their share.

The governor’s proposed budget doesn’t improve the pension fund’s long term solvency, but repeats the errors of the past and levies a special 2 percent tax on public employees.

Jon Lund


Past chairman, Board of Trustees

Maine State Retirement System