KCUR News
8:26 am
Wed October 14, 2009

Economist Says Kansas Could Save Money By Switching To 401k

Topeka, KS – The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS, is facing a multi-billion dollar shortfall in coming years. Yesterday , the Kansas House Appropriations Committee heard about changes that some economists believe could save the state money.

A University of Kansas economist told legislators they could quickly start a new 401(k)-style pension plan for teachers and government workers.

Art Hall is executive director of the university's Center for Applied Economics. He said Tuesday that the state already has an existing 401(k)-style plan for its higher education system. And he says that plan could be expanded.

Hall told the House Appropriations Committee that such a plan would reduce long-term funding problems for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. KPERS now guarantees a participant's benefits, based on salary and years of service.

Hall's center recently raised eyebrows by issuing a report describing KPERS as "bankrupt." Some committee Democrats told him that description unnecessarily frightened seniors.