Governor won’t admit role of union in pension debacle

By Dustin Hurst,

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is a gifted politician where message discipline is concerned.

That can make life tough for a journalist.

On April 10, Schweitzer told a room of reporters that he blames Republicans for blowing a $2.4 billion hole in Montana’s two largest pension programs, the Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS, and the Public Employees Retirement System, or PERS.

Schweitzer’s evidence is 2001’s House Bill 294 that doubled the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, on public-employee pension benefits, from 1.5 percent to 3 percent.

He noted that then-state Rep. Dave LewisR-Helena, carried the bill that passed the GOP-controlled Legislature and was signed by Republican Gov. Judy Martz.

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