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Budget proposal seeks hike in multiemployer PBGC premiums

Multiemployer pension funds would see their PBGC premiums increase over the next decade under a White House budget proposal released Monday.

Aimed at improving the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s multiemployer program's finances, the proposal would raise $16 billion over the 10-year budget window, with the agency's current $32 billion deficit wiped out by fiscal year 2020.

The PBGC premium hike was included in the budget request for the Department of Labor; the DOL's overall request represents a 21% cut from the fiscal 2017 level.

The budget repeats last year's White House proposal to get further federal savings from reforming federal employee retirement benefits, including changing the retirement benefit calculation to five years from the current three years of highest salary; reducing or eliminating cost-of-living adjustments, beginning in fiscal year 2019; and having employees contribute more, starting with 1% of pay in fiscal year 2020. Currently workers hired before 2012 contribute 0.8% of pay, and others contribute up to 4.4%.

New twists in this budget are calls for increasing federal employee pension contributions to 50% of cost, and funding a study to explore moving to a defined contribution retirement plan for future federal employees or letting current workers get out of the existing defined benefit system.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is funded by fees and therefore budget neutral, released its own budget request Monday for fiscal year 2019 that would allow it to backfill critical positions and focus on priorities including cybersecurity and a new chief risk officer function. Retail investors would benefit from 41 restored positions in SEC enforcement and exam divisions, the SEC said in its budget request.