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  #571  
Old 04-25-2017, 03:42 PM
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Mary Pat Campbell
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MISSOURI TEACHERS

80 PERCENT FUNDING

http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion...fd2d426af.html

Quote:
Is Missouri’s Teacher Pension Next?

As I watch Senate Bill 228 pass through the Missouri Legislature, I have to wonder if Missouri’s teacher pension plan is the next to be privatized or eliminated. SB 228 is legislation targeting Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System. If passed, the bill will reduce new state employees’ guaranteed retirement benefits on its first step to privatizing their pension.

So will the Missouri Public School Retirement System (PSRS), also known as the teacher pension, be their next target? The answer is yes if Rex Sinquefield and his organization, the Show-Me Institute, have their way.

Missouri resident Sinquefield, a wealthy Republican who is neither a politician nor an elected official, has a 15-policy agenda he would like to see passed by the Missouri Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Eric Greitens. One of those policies is to privatize or eliminate the Missouri Public School Retirement System. Sinquefield wants to see our teacher pension change from a defined benefit plan, with guaranteed benefits, to a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k) account, essentially privatizing our pension. He claims that state-funded teacher pensions are typically underfunded, which is not true for the state of Missouri.

Missouri teachers contribute 14.5 percent of their salary into the Missouri teacher retirement system. Their contribution is twice the 7 percent contributed by workers into the Social Security program. Missouri’s PSRS has consistently been at or above the healthy 80 percent funding level, which reflects how solvent our teacher pension fund has been.
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  #572  
Old 04-25-2017, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by campbell View Post
JOPLIN, MISSISSIPPI. 80 PERCENT FUNDING
At least it's being blamed on accountants now.
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  #573  
Old 04-25-2017, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Quijote View Post
At least it's being blamed on accountants now.
This particular author has quoted the 80% myth before -- back in 2015:
http://www.joplinglobe.com/news/loca...eec9a0a5c.html

This is what she wrote then:

Quote:
A funding ratio is the percentage of future retirement payments that can be made with the value of the fundís current investments. Accountants describe a fund as being in good condition if it has a funding ratio of 80 percent or more. Employer contributions are supposed to be made in an amount recommended by financial analysts, or actuaries, hired to advise the funds.
So at least she's consistent.

I left a comment on that piece back in 2015 (I keep a spreadsheet, in case you were wondering how I knew this: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing )
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  #574  
Old 04-25-2017, 06:40 PM
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CALIFORNIA

BANKRUPTCY

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/04/...-bankruptcies/

Quote:
Borenstein: City managers concerned pensions will cause more bankruptcies

Lodi City Manager Steve Schwabauer worries about his town’s fiscal solvency — and estimates roughly a third of California’s municipalities are in the same position because of rising pension costs.

Nancy Kerry, city manager of South Lake Tahoe, says her community will avoid bankruptcy but will have to make severe cuts in services to do so.
Schwabauer and Kerry are among a small number of top administrators now publicly talking about the financial crisis ahead. They both say the only way to stave it off begins with reducing pension benefits for existing employees.

“If we had taken this on 15 years ago and said we had a real problem, I think there might have been another way out,” Schwabauer says. “We waited too long to deal with it because nobody wanted to pay the bill.”

Kerry and Schwabauer independently contacted me recently. It’s refreshing to hear their candor. For far too long, top government administrators in California have remained silent, or offered up timid ideas, while most of them knew, or should have known, a crisis was brewing.

These are the people who are supposed to provide the financial expertise and neutral analysis, and be the bearer of good or bad news. Rather than sound the alarm, many of them have been enablers of the 21st Century financial can-kicking.

“The system is teetering, you can’t deny it anymore,” says Kerry. The turning point was the December decision by the board of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to lower its investment forecast.

The labor-dominated board finally recognized that it could no longer rely on unrealistic market returns to shore up the nation’s largest pension plan. Unfortunately, it was too little too late.

The lowered forecast means that local governments across the state must contribute more to make up the difference. And the years of delay make the day of reckoning more painful.

All those years, they had been saying: "We'll pay for it later"

Guess what?

Later is here.

Quote:
Schwabauer blames CalPERS for the double-bind cities find themselves in. On the one hand, pension rates must increase to shore up the retirement system, which is badly underfunded. On the other hand, it’s clear that cities cannot afford the current level of public employee pension benefits.

But CalPERS opposes attempts to reduce future pension accruals for existing employees, and defends the so-called California Rule, the current state constitutional requirement locking in pension formulas once an employee starts working. The formulas can be increased during workers’ careers but never reduced.

CalPERS’ “response is if you try to come up with your own solution, ‘we’re going to take you on,’ ” Schwabauer says. Rather than flexing its legal muscle to defend the status quo, CalPERS should be using it to find ways to give cities more options for addressing the crisis.
Well, it should be interesting when Calpers finds a lot of the smaller plans, and then larger plans, getting thrown into the run-off bucket. With benefits valued at 2.75%, or whatever they're using now.

At least they'll be funding them at "risk-free" rates. So they know that at least the lesser benefits will be supported.
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  #575  
Old 04-25-2017, 08:24 PM
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KENTUCKY

http://www.courier-journal.com/story...ons/100558040/

Quote:
Kentucky pensions chair wants more conservative assumptions

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The newly elected chairman of the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees says look for the board to make certain conservative assumptions next month that will paint an even grimmer – but realistic – outlook of the systems' financial condition.

"What I think you'll see is we're going to be more conservative..." John Farris said in an interview after a KRS board meeting Thursday. "I've taken a deep dive into the numbers and I would say that I have to call into question the numbers that were approved in prior years."

Farris questioned key assumptions used by the board in the past, such as that the government's payroll would grow at a rate of about 4 percent – a key factor in projecting how much money the systems will get in the future from the contributions of employees. "But actually payroll growth has been flat or negative," Farris said.

He also said that the rate assumed that would be earned on investments, now at 6.75 or 7.5 percent for the various plans in KRS, is too high. Actual returns for the last three years have been about 5 percent, he said. "And I think at our May meeting you'll see a number closer to 5 percent," adopted as the new assumed rate of return, Farris said.

.....
Kentucky Retirement Systems is currently staggering under more than $18 billion in unfunded liabilities. The separate Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System reports an unfunded liability of $14.5 billion in its pension plan. But Gov. Matt Bevin has warned – partly due to inaccurate and optimistic assumptions – the outlook is actually much worse.
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  #576  
Old 04-25-2017, 08:25 PM
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SOUTH CAROLINA

http://www.1063word.com/articles/sou...rnors-approval

Quote:
South Carolina Pension Fix Awaits Governor's Approval

A proposal aimed at ensuring South Carolina can pay state retirees the benefits they’ve been promised is awaiting the governor’s pen.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has until midnight Tuesday to sign or veto a bill aimed at pumping money into the state’s retirement system – short about $20 billion needed to cover retirement benefits that have been promised. Without action from the governor, the bill will become law.

If the bill becomes law, government workers, including S.C. teachers, would contribute 9 percent of their pay into the retirement system, up from the 8.7 percent they contribute now. That change would take effect July 1, adding $42 million a year to the retirement system.


The proposal’s opponents are pushing the governor to veto the bill, saying S.C. taxpayers should not be responsible for picking up a majority of the tab to shore up the state pension system.

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Old 04-25-2017, 08:40 PM
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PENNSYLVANIA

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-sta...nvestment-fees

Quote:
Wolf, Treasurer Push Pension Agencies to Cut Investment Fees

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's two large public-sector pension agencies got a message from Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday: cut the fees paid to outside firms handling billions in investments.

Wolf and Treasurer Joe Torsella said at a news conference that they hoped that the state government pension fund would find ways to save $46 million annually and the school employees' fund about $100 million a year.

The two Democrats said Pennsylvania is near the top in the ranking of states that pay the highest percentage of pension-fund investment fees.

"This is something that we can do immediately," said Wolf, noting the proposal should be accompanied by legislative changes to the system.

"There has been some progress," Torsella said. "We're suggesting the progress needs to be accelerated."

They said that in the most recent year, the two funds paid out nearly $600 million in fees. Torsella said that number was likely less than the actual total.

A spokeswoman for the State Employees' Retirement System, for state government workers, said it has been reducing fees and moving to passive investments that now make up about 40 percent of the fund.

"As a board member, the treasurer will have an opportunity to discuss these recommendations with the full board," said the spokeswoman, Pam Hile.

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  #578  
Old 04-25-2017, 08:41 PM
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KENTUCKY

http://www.richmondregister.com/news...a68cb6e4f.html

Quote:
Pension system gets some good news


FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s troubled pension systems had some good news for lawmakers Monday, although they remain a long way from financial stability.

And one of them — the County Employee Retirement System or CERS — wants to become independent of the state system and enjoys the support of a key Republican senator.

Representatives of the retirement systems told the Public Pension Oversight Board on Monday that their financial position has improved slightly over the past year because of an infusion of cash from the state budget and improving market conditions.

The Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, for instance, used a state appropriation of $973 million over two years — $125 million each quarter — to improve its cash flow and to increase its asset base from $16.8 billion to $18.1 billion in a year.

It cut its negative cash flow — having to pay out more in benefits than it took in — from around $611 million to about $300 million.

KTRS Deputy Executive Director Beau Barnes said the timing of the state infusion of cash — proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin and approved by lawmakers in 2016 — couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

“The timing is great,” Barnes told the board. “Just as markets began to rebound, the funding has put KTRS on a path to becoming healthy and well-funded again.”

The estimated combined unfunded liability of all the pension systems is somewhere around $35 billion — but Bevin and others believe that is too low of an estimate. It’s generally rated the worst funded state pension system in the country.

Bevin has plans to call a special session of the General Assembly sometime this year, probably in the fall, to deal with tax reform and changes to the pension system.

The most financially strapped is the Kentucky Employee Retirement System or KERS, which has unfunded liabilities of at least $18 billion. But things got just a little better over the past year even for KERS.

David Eager, Interim Executive Director for KERS, told the board the system actually took in about $51 million more than it paid out last year — “but that’s nowhere close to what we need,” he added. KERS’ assets also grew over the last year — from $15.1 billion to $16.2 billion.

According to legislative staff, all the pension systems enjoyed improved returns over the past nine months and are on track to meet their projected assumed returns for the year.

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Old 04-25-2017, 08:42 PM
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TENNESSEE

(potentially) CRIMINAL OFFICIALS

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-sta...-4-500-pension

Quote:
FBI-Investigated Nashville Judge to Receive $4,500 [PER MONTH] Pension

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville judge Casey Moreland will receive more than $4,500 monthly through a pension. He resigned in March after being charged in an ongoing FBI investigation.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/2oDG1aO ) taxpayers will fund an estimated $4,588 each month for the 59-year-old's pension payments that begin in May. A Metro Human Resources spokeswoman says Moreland is also eligible for a $10,000 life insurance policy and medical coverage.

Nashville's law director says with or without a conviction a board will declare if Moreland can continue to receive benefits. State law says a public official forfeits retirement benefits if convicted of a felony related to their employment.

Moreland faces several counts including obstruction of justice and witness tampering. The federal probe's scope includes the financial relationship with his specialty court programs and nonprofit funding.

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Old 04-25-2017, 08:43 PM
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ILLINOIS

(definitely) CRIMINAL OFFICIALS

http://www.dailyherald.com/news/2017...vote-this-week

Quote:
Hastert's pension could be reduced after vote this week

The board governing Illinois lawmakers' pension system is set to vote this week on a recommendation to reduce former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's retirement benefits to a fraction of the $28,000 a year he had been getting.

Tim Blair, executive secretary of the General Assembly Retirement System, is recommending the seven-member board approve a reduced lawmakers' pension of $9,068 a year for Hastert.

The vote expected Wednesday follows a separate settlement between Hastert, of Plano, and the Teachers' Retirement System over a $16,000-a-year teacher pension. Hastert, who is serving a 15-month federal sentence in Minnesota, was a teacher at Yorkville High School from 1965 to 1981 and a state lawmaker from 1981 to 1986.

TRS revoked Hastert's pension in April 2016 because of a state law preventing pension collection by anyone with a felony conviction related to his or her time teaching.

But Hastert appealed, and TRS spokesman Dave Urbanek said the two sides agreed Jan. 30 that Hastert will forfeit his annual pension after April 27, 2016 -- the date of his sentencing in federal court. Under the agreement, Urbanek said, TRS will not go after repayment of the $222,808 in benefits already paid out to Hastert.

Hastert, 75, pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges involving payments to cover up sexual misconduct. At his sentencing, Hastert admitted he had sexually abused teenage boys he'd taught and coached.

Along with the teacher and lawmaker pensions, Hastert receives a $73,000 annual pension from his 20 years in Congress, bringing his total public pension to about $125,000 before his arrest. That federal pension has not been revoked.

The Illinois legislative pension was boosted to $28,000, in part, by a state law that allows public employees to get credit for spending time working in different pension systems. The proposed new pension would be based solely on Hastert's time served in the General Assembly.

Blair also recommended the GARS board, which includes Republican state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights, Democratic state Rep. Mike Zalewski of Riverside and Democratic state Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park, repay Hastert some of his pension that was put on hold after his conviction and sentencing.

That amount -- from April 27, 2016, until now -- would be $6,343, less than he would receive in 2017 because of cost-of-living adjustments.

Board members Monday said they expect Blair's recommendation to be adopted.


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