The Wall Street Journal reports that today, U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Ron Kind (D- WI) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide relief to non-profits such as local Girl Scout councils, which now have higher pension funding rules than taxable, for-profit companies. This bill, the Charitable Pension Flexibility Act, which was developed in collaboration with Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), enables Girl Scouts and similar charities with affiliates, such as universities and non-profit hospitals, to opt-in early starting next year to the pension funding rules that cover corporate plans.
“As a former Girl Scout, I am pleased to support charitable organizations like the Girl Scouts as they seek a level playing field with corporate America when it comes to pension funding requirements,” said Rep. Brooks. “This common sense legislation provides much needed flexibility allowing organizations such as the Girl Scouts to continue serving communities in Indiana and across our nation. Helping local Girl Scout councils succeed ensures millions of girls continue benefiting from the life-long leadership lessons the organization provides.”
The Charitable Pension Flexibility Act applies to charity pension plans with multiple entities that are exempt from normal pension funding rules until 2017. This straightforward bill would permit such plans to elect into the normal rules in 2014. A technical correction that previously passed the Senate would have permitted this same option.
“We applaud the bipartisan leadership of Congresswoman Susan Brooks and Congressman Ron Kind,” said Anna Maria Chávez, Chief Executive Officer at Girl Scouts of the USA. “The pension issue is critical, and with every day that goes by it’s threatening our councils’ ability to continue vital programs, offer opportunities to girls, retain the staff and develop the volunteers who make our organization a powerful force in the lives of young women.”
Absent prompt Congressional relief, local Girl Scout councils will have to cut programs, lay off staff, and engage in other cost-cutting measures. Local councils are facing a 40 percent increase in their pension expense next year and a 62 percent increase over the next three years. Overall, councils across the country will have to contribute $36 million more than a corporate plan sponsor would in the same situation. This translates into approximately 113,000 girls losing the benefits of Girl Scouting.
“The Girl Scouts do great work in Wisconsin and across the country, teaching girls and young women strong values and leadership skills that will help make them the future leaders of America,” said Rep. Kind. “For over 100 years their name has been synonymous with integrity, courage, and community service, and I’m proud to support efforts to help keep their organization strong.”