Senator supports pension change for corrections workers

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

A state senator from Leavenworth introduced a bill this year that would allow state corrections workers to participate in a different pension program.

And while Sen. Jeff Pittman is not optimistic about the bill passing this year, he believes it is important to keep talking about the issue.

“It’s a good idea,” he said.

Pittman, a Democrat, introduced Senate Bill 135 last month. The bill proposes making the state’s police and firefighters’ retirement system, known as KP&F, available for many of the employees of the Kansas Department of Corrections. Currently, KDOC employees can participate in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

Pittman said KP&F can provide a higher retirement benefit than what employees would receive through KPERS. And KP&F allows participants to retire earlier.

Pittman said the state government would benefit from the change because KP&F requires a longer commitment in order to be vested, or guaranteed a retirement benefit, than KPERS. KP&F members must provide at least 15 years of service to be vested and KPERS only requires five years of service.

Pittman said this would incentivize longer-term employment for KDOC staff members.

Police officers in Kansas already can participate in KP&F. Pittman said being a state corrections officer can be as stressful as working as a police officer.

“That’s where some of the most hardened criminals are,” he said of state prisons.

The Lansing Correctional Facility is located in Pittman’s state Senate district.

The Kansas Senate’s Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance conducted hearings on the bill introduced by Pittman. But the committee has not advanced the bill.

While Pittman does not believe the bill will pass this year, he is optimistic similar legislation may be approved during the next couple of years.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR