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Murkowski: Time to Reform Workers' Comp and PERS/TRS;
National labor groups should not threaten state


May 07, 2005

Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski reacted strongly Saturday to pressure by outside special interest groups seeking to kill the proposed retirement system reform currently working its way through the Legislature.

"This is an Alaskan problem," said Murkowski. "It deserves an Alaskan solution. A good one is on the table - a defined contribution plan - that will stop the accumulating debt of our current system and provide young workers with a well-funded, portable retirement plan. Our legislators should stand up against these outside union leaders and do what's right for the future fiscal well-being of Alaska."

The governor was reacting to letters received by legislators Friday from national labor union leaders, urging them to kill the PERS/TRS bill and noting labor union support for ANWR.

"We will continue to work with labor to get ANWR opened. But linking ANWR to PERS/TRS is wrong." added the governor. "ANWR is in our mutual best interest - it will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs for working men and women in Alaska and the Lower 48. But PERS/TRS reform, workers' compensation reform and a strong capital budget that will provide thousands of construction jobs are also in the interest of Alaskans, including Alaska labor organizations. These reforms will leave more state funding available for education and needed infrastructure projects."

The well-funded capital budget proposed this year would take care of schools, roads and deferred maintenance and prepare Alaska for construction of a gas pipeline. It is one of the governor's top legislative priorities. But he noted that until there are meaningful workers' compensation and retirement system bills, the capital budget will not be signed.

"Alaska's workers' compensation rates are the second highest in the nation," added the governor. "Small businesses provide 68% of Alaska jobs and must be protected. Small business owners have told me that without relief they may be forced to close their doors. Non-profit organizations such as the Girl Scouts have also been hard hit by rising rates.

"My commitment to our small businesses and to the solvency of our retirement system is unwavering. We must have resolution on these two issues," said Murkowski.  "Now is the time for the legislature to step up to the plate. We've seen positive action in the Senate and I urge House members to do what's right for Alaska and resist this pressure from outside union leaders. Alaskans deserve a capital budget that takes care of their needs. Our businesses deserve workers' compensation relief. And our state deserves a strong public employees retirement system."

Source of News:

Office of the Governor
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