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Iowa lawmaker’s give ‘unequivocal’ pledge about government pensions

DES MOINES — The leader of a House committee is promising to block any attempt to adjust the pension benefits awarded through the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System — commonly called IPERS.

Republican Representative Bobby Kaufman of Wilton is chairman of the House State Government Committee, the panel that would consider any IPERS policy changes.

“There is very simply and unequivocally not going to be changes,” Kaufmann said Tuesday.

A Republican state senator introduced a bill last year that would have enrolled future state and local government employees into something like the 401k systems available in the private sector. Kaufmann said if that idea is resurrected in the state senate, it will go nowhere in the Iowa House and groups that are saying otherwise are wrong.

“All these groups that are pushing out this crap, after today what you are doing will be completely deceitful, so I want to make it crystal clear,” Kaufmann said. “Republicans never had intentions of taking away or substantively changing your IPERS and going forward over the next two years unequivocally there will be none.”

Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, said because Republicans made dramatic changes to Iowa’s collective bargaining law in 2017, there’s a “lack of trust” when Republicans make pledges about public workers’ pensions.

“I appreciate the fact that you’re very adamant about making no changes and I think that’s important,” Mascher said during Tuesday’s committee meeting, “but that message needs to be delivered to the senate, because they have been proposing legislation.”

Kaufmann replied that no bill becomes law without coming through the Iowa House.

“It is absolute that after today, any group that sends out the email scaring our constituents, I’m going to publicly call you a liar,” Kaufmann said.

Progress Iowa is one of the group’s Kaufmann specifically cited Tuesday. The group’s executive director in a written statement said retirement security is “too important for us to stay silent” and his group “won’t be bullied by Bobby Kaufmann.”


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