Keeping the Kansas Promise is a coalition of Kansas organizations seeking to preserve and enhance the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS).
Since 1961, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) has provided Kansas’ public servants, as part of normal compensation, a modest sum for retirement. Today, public servants retiring from the state of Kansas receive, on average, a modest $12,460 (2008) annual retirement benefit. Kansas’ public servants have relied on the promises of the State of Kansas that they would have a modest pension available upon retirement. On average, retiree KPERS members served the state of Kansas for 23 years before retiring.
Goals of Keeping the Kansas Promise include:
- Serving as a comprehensive resource for legislative updates and information, as the events happen;
- Preventing the shifting of the KPERS system for existing or new employees from the current defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan;
- Preventing an increased tax on public employees to fund a KPERS unfunded actuarial liability caused by legislative failures to properly fund the system for the last 17 years;
- Opposing any attempt to rob KPERS assets for the operation of general government, whether through “lease-purchase” schemes of state office buildings or other deceitful mechanism; and
- Encouraging the state and other employer contributors (cities and counties) to make the full actuarially required contribution to the KPERS fund that is necessary to fully fund the system and improve the overall health of the KPERS system.
Public servants such as our state’s teachers, firefighters, police officers, state employees and city and county public servants have earned their pensions as part of their total compensation package.
Since 1995, the Kansas Legislature has failed to contribute the full matching contribution for public servant contributions to the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS). The failure by the Kansas Legislature to appropriately match employee contributions to the KPERS fund – as promised – has led to a nearly $10.1 billion unfunded actuarial liability (UAL) within the KPERS system.
While the amount of the UAL seems large, the KPERS system is, today, not at risk of insolvency.