The budget that was recently signed by Gov. Paul LePage is both immoral and illegal.

What Republicans call “pension reform” was simply stealing from the retirement system to fund their pet programs. Theft, larceny, embezzlement and robbery are words that truly apply in this case. What is characterized as “saving $1.4 billion” also could be called “stealing $1.4 billion in retirement benefits, and diverting the funds to other uses.”

Changes to the retirement system have occurred before, and they were done correctly: They only affected workers who were not yet vested in the retirement system.

The new changes are different and also affects workers who are vested and workers who are already retired, by eliminating part of their cost of living increases.

I am a state retiree, and my estimate shows that I could lose as much as $107,000 in benefits in the next 20 years.

When I became vested in the system after 10 years of service, my contract with the state provided me with retirement benefits and spelled out the terms. I submit that the state cannot unilaterally break this contract nor change its terms. But it has done so.

This contract is discussed in MRSA Title 5 Section 17801.1.B.(1) referring to retirement benefits, including COLA’s:

“The protections established under the provisions listed (below) constitute solemn contractual commitments of the state protected under the contract clauses of the Constitution of Maine, Article I, Section 11 and the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 10.”

Raiding the retirement fund also is protected under Section 18 of the state Constitution: …retirement and related benefits shall be held, invested or disbursed as in trust for the exclusive purpose of providing for such benefits and shall not be encumbered for, or diverted to, other purposes…”

Richard Washburn Jr., Skowhegan

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