Op-ed: Protect RSA

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Rep. Randall Shedd (Cullman Tribune file photo)

When I say my goal is to protect RSA, (Retirement System of Alabama), I am speaking of preventing changing the retirement of Alabama’s public employees from a defined benefit plan to 401k type retirement plans, which are at the whim of Wall Street.

I led the fight in the legislature in 2016, and I stand ready to do so again at any moment I detect any such threat to RSA.

RSA was targeted in the 2016 legislative session for takeover. Eight out-of-state lobbyists came to Montgomery with “gloom and doom” about RSA and convinced the legislative Pension Committee to change to “cash balance” plan.

I was one of only a few on the Pension Committee that voted against their new plan. We successfully kept it from coming before the full legislature for a vote.

Thanks to two dedicated firefighters from Huntsville who garnered a flood of social media support for RSA, and a large number of legislators aggressively opposing the RSA change, we haven’t seen those eight out-of-state lobbyists in Montgomery since.

Thankfully today our Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, Pro Tem of the Senate and a large number of legislators are supportive of RSA.

RSA is too important to Alabama to allow out-of-state privatization to take over the multi-billion dollar public system:

  • Retired public employees are depending on a retirement check they’ve earned
  • Current public employees are counting on a dependable retirement check they are earning
  • RSA retirement has been a big job attraction for public safety employees such as local and state police, state corrections employees (prison guards) and others the public desperately needs to keep us safe (With current conditions as they are, it is getting harder to attract new recruits for these public safety jobs)
  • RSA has been a big reason educators in public education in Alabama chose this field. (With current conditions as they are, fewer are choosing this field)
  • RSA is important to the economy of our state
  • RSA has invested in Alabama, especially in tourism infrastructure and promotion causing a lot of people to come to or through our state to spend their vacations and money
  • RSA has been the difference in numerous large economic development projects choosing to locate in Alabama

No organization is perfect and any of us can find fault with RSA if we want to, whether it’s some of their investments, policy or decisions. But ultimately, as a whole RSA is important to us all – Alabama public employees, Alabama residents, Alabama’s economy and the state of Alabama as a whole!

A “Retirement Tsunami” is coming and I really worry that not enough people are financially prepared for it.

I worry about the impact it will have on individuals, and on our state and country.

RSA retirees will survive better than some.

Thank y’all for letting me represent you in Montgomery!

Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview