As a public employee of 35 years and someone who cares very much about the strength of our local community, I am concerned about the proposed changes to IPERS, the retirement system for 350,000 Iowans.
The importance of IPERS goes well beyond the retirement security it provides for so many people — it is also a critical economic driver for communities like Davenport and Bettendorf. In Scott County alone, retiree benefits totaled nearly $73 million last year. Very few industries provide that kind of boost through disposable income.
A retiree myself, I can say that money is going back into our local economy through taxes, utilities, and spending at our local businesses. Personally, I know if the benefits I anticipated are not there, it will result in having to cut back on groceries and dining out, cancelling my subscription to the local newspaper, and curtailing spending at local retail stores and service providers within the Quad-Cities area.
Unfortunately, Gov. Reynolds and legislators have indicated they want to see changes to the system that would be a disservice to our economy. While they have been reluctant to make changes in an election year, Gov. Reynolds has said she would like to “shift to maybe a defined contribution moving forward.” To double down, the Reason Foundation, an out-of-state interest group that advocates for the same kind of disastrous plans, was brought in to evaluate the “true state” of IPERS.
If we want to support our community, we should support important economic drivers like IPERS.
Editor's note: Cannon-James is president of AFSCME Iowa Retireee Chapter 61