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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Senator Proposes End To Pensions For Elected Officials

Washington Legislature
Washington state Senator John Braun

A Washington state senator says if 401(k)s are good enough for Boeing machinists, they should be good enough for those who hold elected office.

Republican John Braun said Wednesday he will introduce legislation to end pensions for all elected officials in Washington.

Braun is a freshman state senator and business owner who already doesn’t participate in the state pension system. He says he understands why some machinists were incensed recently when elected officials with pensions urged them to make concessions on theirs.

“For folks to say you need to take this deal and not be willing to is somewhat hypocritical,” says Braun.

So now Braun says he will propose legislation that would end pensions for elected officials in Washington and move them into a new 401(k)-style plan.

“When you make this kind of reform it’s appropriate that you start at the top,” he says.

It’s unclear what sort of support or opposition Braun’s idea will have in the legislative session that begins on Monday. However, House Democratic Leader Pat Sullivan says it would be “an interesting conversation to have.”

Last year the Oregon legislature ended pensions for newly elected legislators.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."