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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesGERS Reform Act Suffers from Lack of Action by Elected Officials

GERS Reform Act Suffers from Lack of Action by Elected Officials

After a full year of advocating on behalf of the Government Employees' Retirement System the membership of AARP is well aware of the rising unfunded liability that now stands over $1.3 billion and rising daily. What puzzles and dismays our membership is that it appears to be new ‘news' to many in this community. Where has everyone been? Adding to our dismay is the fact that the two groups who have it within their power to implement meaningful changes to this spiraling travesty namely – the governor and the legislature – have not taken the initiative to do something that lies squarely under their jurisdiction.
Ironically these same senators are the very ones who, although intimately involved in the reform, failed:
–To follow-up, in mid-April, on the legislature's request for the governor's financial team to return before the legislature with a reasonable plan for the Pension Obligation Bond or the governor's technical amendments. That deadline was April 15. To date these senators have not urged or demanded that the senate president contact the governor to learn of the status of the information requested;
–To stop the governor's supplemental budget proceedings to demand a copy of an impact study as required by Act 6794, when the bill containing a $3 million COLA for retirees came before them. This $3 million expense had no source of funding attached to it and will become yet another contribution to the growing unfunded liability.
–To even provide clear language that would indicate the bill's intent. The language contained in this portion of the bill was so vague that a subsequent meeting had to be held simply to decipher the governor's intent.
GERS cannot become a political pawn during this election season. Government employees, retirees and the community as a whole can't afford to see GERS' debt continue to grow until the system totally disintegrates. GERS payments will contribute $120 million into the V.I. economy this year alone. This community will be devastated if this segment of the V.I. economic picture is erased.
AARP members are outraged by the lack of action on the part of our elected officials, particularly those involved in the GERS Reform Act and the governor's office. This community can wait no longer. Virgin Islanders need action – not campaign rhetoric. Senators work with the governor to make GERS' solvency a reality not political jargon. Action must be taken by you now if GERS is to remain solvent.

Editors note:We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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