A report released this week by a conservative Kansas think tank says the state does have the ability to change retirement benefits for current public employees. Lawmakers passed legislation last session that would require employees to pay more into the public pension system, or have their retirement benefits reduced. The public pension system in Kansas faces a multi-billion dollar deficit. Economist Ralph Benko studied federal law and court cases on the issue. He says federal law does not bar the state from changing the benefits of current employees, within reason.
The Kansas Policy Institute commissioned the study. The group advocates for low taxes and smaller government. Critics of changing the public pension plan have said the agreement is a contract between workers and the state that can't be modified unless both sides agree.