The House Financial Institutions and Pensions committee had a hearing on a bill to add those that work for the Kansas academies of U.S. department of defense STARBASE program from KPERS working after retirement requirements. Audits required by the federal government forced the program to go from being run by a non-profit organization to being under the Adjutant General’s office. All the operating funds still come from federal grants.

“We currently have 20 employees that are staff at the five sites,” said Lt Col Jess Sojka. “Five of those are affected by the current statute of KPERS. Because of the way the law is currently written, they’re not exempt from these contributions. The increased expenses to us for that increased contribution rate of the employer is approximately $25,000 annually.”

Sojka said the money would go back into the program if it didn’t have to go to KPERS.

“That’s $25,000 that we can’t spend to invest in replacement computers or consumables,” said Sojka. “A lot of the curriculum involves experiments and things where we consume a lot of materials. Basically, every one of those dollars that goes into KPERS is money that’s not available for us to spend on the program.”

KPERS Executive Director Alan Conroy said not having those contributions really won’t make a difference to KPERS.

“Really, it would have no actuarial impact, it’s so small,” said Conroy. “It would not, sort of, move the needle, in terms of
actuarial cost. It’s just adding one small additional exemption to that list already in place of others that are exempted from the KPERS Working After Retirement provisions.”

Some other groups that are exempted from contributing to KPERS when they hire retirees are retirees hired as daily substitutes in school districts, retirees hired as poll workers and retirees serving in local government offices. If this bill passes, the STARBASE employees would be added to that group.