Louisiana House panel looks at college retirement funds Thursday

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- The Louisiana state Capitol building in Baton Rouge. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- The Louisiana state Capitol building in Baton Rouge.

The state Senate took off for the weekend, but the Louisiana House has a full slate of committee hearings Thursday.

The chairman of the state House Retirement Committee is expected to push legislation Thursday aimed at helping colleges and universites with faculty recruitment and retention.

The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, would boost the state’s contribution to the Optional Retirement Plan, called ORP, which is popular among academics.

The state employer contribution today is the lowest in the country at 3.8 percent. The employee contributes 8 percent.

Private company employers contribute 6.2 percent toward Social Security.

Pearson said last week he would like the state to provide a benefit at least equal to Social Security.

College and university leaders have complained that the state’s poor contribution rate is a deterent to recruiting and keeping faculty in the national marketplace.

“It is a competition problem for us,” LSU director of external affairs Jason Droddy said recently.

The ORP is an alternative to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana’s traditional defined benefit plan.

Employee and employer contributions are invested by a private carrier in options chosen by the individual pension system member. The performance of the individual’s investment determines the retirement benefits due.

The plan is popular among academics because it is portable to most other U.S. colleges and universities.

The House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs is scheduled to take up a variety of bills dealing with neighborhood crime prevention districts.

The measures deal with University Acres in East Baton Rouge, and the Kingswood Subdivision and Seabrook Neighborhood districts in Orleans.

State Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, is expected to ask the House Judiciary Committee to approve legislaton that would authorize the sale of wine ice cream in Louisiana.