CL – Employers to pick up $90M to plug state pension program

Pension costs – could blow another hole in lawmakers’ fiscal 2011 financial blueprint.

The Public Employees’ Retirement System needs a $90 million boost next year.

And the budget compromise drawn up last week by leading lawmakers calls for agencies, universities, schools and other local government employers to pick up the tab.

“The retirement system is going to have to have the money,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo. “It’s going to be assessed to the employer. It’s a new expense they’ll have to pick up.”

Lawmakers return to the Capitol today after a 3 1/2-week hiatus to pass the fiscal 2011 budget.

House and Senate budget writers have drawn up a $5.5 billion budget compromise they hope the rank-and-file will sign off on without too much infighting.

But the pension question looms.

“I think this is the only thing left hanging on the budget side,” said Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson. “I don’t know anything else that rises to that level.”

The budget is due April 28.