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  #1311  
Old 09-27-2017, 09:49 PM
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Mary Pat Campbell
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NEW JERSEY
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf...ons_sound.html

Quote:
Phil Murphy's latest pension funding plan? It sounds a bit like Christie's.

Spoiler:
NEWARK -- Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy said Monday that he would increase the state's annual payments to public worker pensions well above those made by Gov. Chris Christie, but was vague about how much more he'd spend, and when.

"We have to get there as fast as possible," said Murphy. "But this is a state right now which is '0' for three: We don't grow enough, we're profoundly unfair, and when the economy works, it works for very few."

In July, Christie committed to making a $2.5 billion state contribution to the $73.6 billion New Jersey Pension Fund, with about $1 billion coming from the proceeds of the state lottery.

On Monday, Murphy promised that he would continue to fund the pension at least as much as Christie had.

"At a minimum, we'll continue the progress that's being made right now," Murphy said.

According to the latest rankings from George Mason University's Mercatus Center, there isn't a single U.S. state in worse fiscal shape than New Jersey. The Garden State ranks last in its July 2017 survey when it comes to cash on hand, budget, long-run solvency, trust fund solvency and service-level solvency.
….
Christie has thus far made one-tenth of the contributions recommended by actuaries, putting the state on track to make a full payment in 2023.

Meanwhile, Murphy has campaigned on a promise to eventually fully fund state worker pensions, but on Monday said little about how and when that full-funding would occur.

"The answer is: As quickly as possible, and we'll be very clear about it if we get elected in terms of what the plan looks like," said Murphy, speaking to reporters after a campaign pep rally at Weequahic High School in Newark with Shaquielle O'Neal.

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Old 09-27-2017, 09:52 PM
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RHODE ISLAND

DISABILITY
http://www.providencejournal.com/opi...pension-system

Quote:
Editorial: Protect R.I.’s pension system

Spoiler:
In an evening of rapid-fire voting this month, the House and Senate stuck it to the taxpayers again, on behalf of powerful special interests at the State House. Gov. Gina Raimondo, fortunately, seems poised to veto their latest attack on the integrity of Rhode Island’s pension system.

The bill in question, sought by firefighters unions, would establish the presumption that a firefighter’s heart disease was caused by the job. Firefighters already get such tax-free pensions if they can show that ailment was actually job-related. This bill would make it virtually automatic, whether the job had anything to do with it or not.

The change is expected to cost taxpayers an extra $2.3 million to $2.8 million a year. That’s $46 million to $56 million over the next 20 years — at a time when budget deficits are ballooning and the state’s schools and bridges are crumbling.

It is little wonder that General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and municipal officers are pleading for a veto.

Under existing law, doctors can testify that poor eating habits or excessive smoking were key contributing factors to a firefighter’s heart disease. The new legislation, by contrast, “would require Rhode Island pension funds to award accidental disability benefits to firefighters with heart conditions even when the available evidence, including the opinions of examining physicians, do not conclude such awards to be warranted,” Mr. Magaziner warned.
The bill would prevent the state Retirement Board, which scrutinizes such pensions, “from considering the opinions of independent medical experts, and from considering other factors that can cause heart conditions, such as tobacco use,” he noted.

While we strongly believe that the public has a duty to support firefighters who injure themselves irreparably on the job, disability pensions must be reserved for those who deserve them. Otherwise, the public will not have enough money to maintain such pensions.

CRIMINAL OFFICIALS
http://www.providencejournal.com/new...er-cianci-aide
Quote:
R.I. Supreme Court hears appeals over pension of former Cianci aide

Spoiler:
In 2002, Frank E. Corrente was convicted on racketeering and corruption charges that muddled his right to his $5,881.30-a-month pension.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Is Frank E. Corrente, a former city employee who was convicted in the “Operation Plunder Dome” case, entitled to pension benefits?

It’s a question that has been kicked up to the state’s highest court. And after more than 20 years of debate, Corrente, 88, may get an answer.

Corrente was Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr.’s director of administration in the 1990s. He worked in that job for almost 10 years, and after he retired in 1999, he received a monthly pension benefit of $5,881.30 based on a gross salary of $91,656.58, according to court documents.

In 2002, he was convicted on racketeering and corruption charges that muddled his right to that money. A jury found that Corrente, recently featured in the hit podcast “Crimetown,” took payoffs while working for Cianci from a business man working undercover for the FBI.

But before joining Cianci’s City Hall team, Corrente worked as a financial specialist in the controller’s office starting in June 1967. He was promoted to the city controller position in 1981, and retired in April 1987. At that time he was awarded a monthly pension of $1,852.61 based on a gross salary of $42,098.45. He gave up those monthly benefits when he returned to work for Cianci, lawyers said.

Supreme Court justices met Tuesday to review a few things:

— An appeal from Corrente, who wants, at minimum, a tax credit for the money he already paid to the government for the pension that was revoked. He is being represented by John B. Harwood, former speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, who argues the Retirement Board’s decision to deny Corrente’s request is “an arbitrary and capricious decision ... [that] lacks any degree of exercising common sense.”

— A cross appeal from the Retirement Board, represented by Raymond A. Marcaccio, who argued that Corrente should not receive the credit because there is no evidence that any taxes were taken from his pension payments from 1999 to 2002.

— A second cross appeal from Mayor Jorge Elorza and the city, represented by John D. Plummer. Plummer, following up on an initial “intervention” from then-Mayor David Cicilline, argues Corrente is not entitled to any pension. He is requesting a new Superior Court trial.

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Old 09-27-2017, 09:53 PM
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MOUNT CARMEL, PENNSYLVANIA

https://www.newsitem.com/articles/pe...n-right-track/

Quote:
Pension pause has put borough on right track


Spoiler:
As Pennsylvania’s pension system was headed for a crisis over the past decade, so, too, was Mount Carmel Borough’s.

It reached a breaking point in December 2012 when council members voted to freeze the pension plan for non-uniformed workers (those who are not police officers, which currently numbers 10) because the borough was $250,000 behind in funding it.

Now, nearly five years later, borough council members have voted to unfreeze the plan, retroactive to Jan. 1, alongside a second motion to convert it from a pension to a 401k-type retirement plan at the beginning of 2018.

• • •

The council’s action has merit on two key accounts.

First, as an employer, offering a retirement plan, though not as common as it once was, is an incentive to attract quality workers. Mount Carmel, like other public and private lower anthracite region employers, is choosing from a limited pool of quality candidates. Having a retirement plan back on the books, even if it’s not as lucrative as a traditional pension, should result in a better hire and, therefore, better service to taxpayers.

Second, the change to a 401k-style plan is prudent because the borough will have less risk. In a “defined benefit plan,” or pension, the employer puts up the money and promises a certain payout at retirement. A 401k is a “defined contribution plan,” whereby the employer specifies a percentage of an employee’s salary or a specific dollar amount, and the employee can also contribute to his or her own plan. What it adds up to at retirement is not guaranteed, but the employer, the borough in this case, knows what it will take to fund its employees’ retirement plans each year, and isn’t at the mercy of the stock market.

More and more employers are replacing defined benefit plans with defined contribution plans, primarily due to the expense and long-term obligations associated with running a defined benefit plan, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.

• • •

In the end, Mount Carmel Borough will still be offering employees a retirement plan without placing undo burden and risk on taxpayers.

If only Pennsylvania could find a similar solution to its public pension crisis.


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Old 09-28-2017, 01:38 PM
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https://www.teacherpensions.org/blog...-united-states

Quote:
The (True) History of Defined Benefit Pension Plans in the United States

Pensions are for survivors.

That's the first thing that struck me when reading the National Public Pension Coalition (NPPC) short report, “Why Pensions Matter: The history of defined benefit pension plans in the United States of America.” It starts out like this:

Quote:
Pensions, in the broadest sense of the term, have existed since ancient Rome. Soldiers in the Roman army could earn pensions through their military service. The value of these pensions to Roman soldiers helped to maintain the power of emperors such as Augustus. Pensions for military service have continued to exist in one form or another in the two thousand years since.
This is true as far as the history goes, but it’s a telling anecdote, because it's a reminder that pensions benefit survivors. In the past, that meant surviving war. Today, that means remaining in one profession and one state for an entire career. State pension plans assume that less than one-in-five teachers will survive long enough to truly benefit from today’s back-loaded teacher pension plans.


Spoiler:
The report is a few months old now, and it has some useful historical notes, but it also includes a number of attempts to gloss over the true history of retirement savings in this country. To show where the NPPC's history bleeds into a false nostalgia, I’ve pulled out a few sections below and annotated where the report goes wrong:

.....
Quote:
Critics of public pensions often complain that these pension plans have long vesting periods and reward the longest serving employees. That is intentional. In public education, for example, most research points to teachers dramatically increasing their effectiveness during their first few years of teaching and then maintaining that effectiveness throughout their career. They do not lose their effectiveness the longer they continue in their profession. They are more likely to continue teaching at their peak effectiveness rather than decline. Structuring retirement plans to reward teachers that only teach for three or four years does not make sense because that would reward teachers who leave before reaching their peak effectiveness, often to be replaced by someone without any experience. Similarly, with firefighting and policing, there are a lot of sunk costs that go into training new recruits. It is not in the interest of these departments for their new employees to leave right after training, so their pension plans are structured to promote long-term commitment to the profession.
It’s noteworthy to see a union-backed coalition like the NPPC make their priorities this explicit. They’re essentially admitting that they only care about retirement security for those “committed” to the profession. But, because pensions don’t provide positive benefits to teachers until they’ve served for 20 or 25 years, the NPPC’s definition of “commitment” excludes the majority of people of people who enter the teaching profession. To extend the metaphor, they really only care about the survivors in a war of attrition. They’re also overstating the teacher effectiveness research a bit, but, regardless, as a matter of public policy affecting millions of workers, we should work to ensure they ALL have retirement security.

Later they state:



Quote:
State and local governments offer defined benefit pensions to their employees in order to attract the best and brightest to public service. Public employees earn less on average than their counterparts in the private sector, so job benefits like pensions are a proven way to recruit top talent. Also, as discussed above, pensions play a key role in retaining employees in professions like teaching and firefighting.
This claim is not backed by research. To begin with, we don’t have good evidence on how much pensions affect teacher recruitment. Some teachers might choose to teach because of the promise of a pension, but the long wait for a decent pension also might deter some qualified candidates. Moreover, extremely high (and rising) pension costs have played a role in keeping teacher salaries flat in recent years, and those costs have also contributed to large cuts in pension benefits for new teachers.

We do, however, have evidence on pensions as a retention incentive, and it's not nearly as positive as the NPPC claims. As Kelly Robson and I showed in a recent report for Education Next, state pension plans themselves do not assume that qualifying for a pension is enough to alter teacher behavior. At the back end, pensions do have a retention effect on teachers nearing retirement age, but that comes too late to affect teacher retention rates very much. Moreover, if we care about keeping veteran teachers, then we should be concerned about the much larger “push-out” effect that pensions have on teachers who reach the normal retirement age.

Later they revisit the broader argument about retirement security:


Quote:
In the private sector, the shift from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution 401(k) plans over the past three decades has harmed the retirement security of working families. This is because most working families accumulate far less in retirement savings with a defined contribution plan than they would with a defined benefit pension.
This claim seems like it could be true, but it's not. As discussed above, there was no golden era of retirement saving. In fact, researchers have looked at multiple sources of data and found that today’s retirees are doing at least as well, if not better, than prior generations. (Lest you think anyone is cherry-picking data, the links in the prior sentence will take you to work published by the U.S. Census Bureau, the conservative National Affairs magazine, and the left-leaning Mother Jones.)

That doesn’t mean problems don’t exist—about half of all workers today still do not have access to a retirement plan at their jobs—but pension advocates are seizing on the problems of today in order to make a case for a past that never existed in the first place. It's understandable that as a trade group representing large pension plans, the NPPC doesn't want to have a conversation about why public-sector retirement plans like those offered to teachers are getting worse over time, while those offered in the private sector keep getting better. But that would be a more complete reading of the history.



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  #1315  
Old 09-28-2017, 01:44 PM
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UNITED KINGDOM
BREXIT
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...abilities-grow

Quote:
Brexit Bill Swells on Pensions as EU Parliament Draws Red Lines
EU budget data shows pension liabilities rose 5% last year
EU Parliament calls for ECJ jurisdiction during transition

Spoiler:
Efforts to unblock the Brexit stalemate suffered two setbacks on Wednesday as data showed swelling European pension costs would add to Britain’s exit bill and the veto-wielding European Parliament dug its heels in on what kind of deal it would accept.

As U.K. and European Union officials haggle over the size of Britain’s divorce settlement, documents show the EU’s liabilities grew by almost 4 percent in 2016, with the cost of pensions for EU officials rising more than 5 percent. Higher pension costs -- already a controversial part of the bill -- will increase what the EU thinks the U.K. should pay, and risk injecting additional tension into already fraught talks.
…..
Pension Bill

With the fourth round of talks underway in Brussels -- and the breakthrough that’s needed to move on to trade talks elusive -- negotiators are discussing the Irish border, the rights of EU citizens and crucially, the divorce bill. Both sides were hoping for progress after May conceded last week that the U.K. would pay into the budget for two years after it leaves and honor its obligations more broadly.
As Davis vows to go line by line through the EU’s demands, budget documents obtained by Bloomberg showed European pension liabilities rose 5 percent in 2016 to 67.2 billion euros -- adding to the costs that the EU says the U.K. is on the hook for. Pensions were already a thorny issue and Davis said on Sunday their inclusion in the exit bill was “debatable to say the least.” Rising obligations risk irking the pro-Brexit parts of the government, who think the U.K. should pay as little as possible, or nothing, when it leaves.


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Old 09-28-2017, 01:44 PM
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CALIFORNIA
OROVILLE
https://calocalelectedofficials.org/...local-budgets/
Quote:
City finance director says Oroville faces specter of bankruptcy
Spoiler:
SACRAMENTO – Most Californians are aware of the near-calamity at the tallest earthen dam in the nation, which sits east of the Butte County city of Oroville. More than 188,000 residents were evacuated in February after a large portion of the main spillway threatened to give way amid heavy rains. Talk of “Oroville” often centers on an infrastructure crisis and even global warming, as officials discuss ways to protect that city – and others – from catastrophe.

But a major dam’s eroded spillway isn’t the only thing threatening to collapse around the 19,000-population city. During a public hearing at a California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) committee meeting this month, Oroville Finance Director Ruth Wright warned about the city’s rapidly collapsing financial situation.

Thanks in large part to growing pension costs, Wright said, “We’ve been saying the ‘bankruptcy’ word, which is not very popular.”

Wright was at the Sacramento meeting with several other city officials from across the state to support a senator’s request that CalPERS provide additional actuarial data regarding pension costs. (See her comments here at about 30:00.) Sen. John Moorlach, R-Orange County, wanted to know what the savings would be if pensioners had cost-of-living adjustments temporarily capped and if some employees were moved to a less-generous pension tier.

The impetus: Cities of all sizes and financial conditions are facing rapidly growing pension costs. CalPERS continues to increase the rates that cities have to pay into the pension fund, which is leading to cuts in services and layoffs of city employees.

“In the last two years, we’ve reduced our workforce by one-third,” Wright said. “This is how we balanced our budget, it’s how we’re currently operating, and it’s not operating well, let me tell you.” She said the city just negotiated a 10-percent salary reduction in the city’s police officers’ bargaining unit, “which is very, very hard, very sad.”

“Our future projections show that our rates are going to double in seven years and we don’t know how we’re going to face that,” Wright added. “In three to four years, our cash flow is going to be gone. We don’t even know how we’re going to operate past four years.”

Other California cities have gone bankrupt in recent years, including San Bernardino, Stockton and Vallejo. Some others have threatened the “b” word, but have avoided actual bankruptcy. Cities aren’t totally the victims here. Many of them dramatically expanded pension benefits, without accounting for what it would mean. But at least they now are sounding the alarm, as pension costs consume larger portions of their budgets.

Until the state Legislature addresses the expanding pension debt, more cities are going to face the dismal situation that Oroville’s finance director described at the hearing. More cities are not just going to be saying – but declaring – the “b” word.
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:44 PM
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CONNECTICUT

http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed...927-story.html
Quote:
Legislating Connecticut Pension Reform Legal, Necessary

Spoiler:
Union officials incorrectly claim that the Republican budget — which recently passed both chambers of the legislature with bipartisan support — is illegal.

They claim it is illegal because it reforms state employee pension benefits after 2027, when the current contract expires.

Rather than setting pension benefits through collective bargaining, the budget says, pension benefits will be set by law. That is how 46 other states set their pension benefits, including all our neighboring states.

So the question is: Can lawmakers change collective bargaining laws? Put another way, can the people's elected representatives — who are put into office specifically to write the laws for Connecticut — change collective bargaining laws?

Yes, they can.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a full-time employee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and House Majority Leader Matthew Ritter asked Attorney General George Jepsen for an opinion on labor reforms made in the Republican budget.

Jepsen declined to get into the specific budget proposals, but his opinion said that in extreme circumstances, lawmakers can even alter provisions of collective bargaining agreements while they are still in force. So if even existing agreements can sometimes be altered by lawmakers, how can it possibly be illegal to change the procedure by which future agreements are put in place?

The unions have made it clear that they will take the state to court if this budget becomes law (though Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has promised to veto it). A legal challenge is not an idle threat. Just about any time states makes changes to government union-related laws, they are dragged into costly litigation.
The list is long — in the past few years, unions have sued in Rhode Island, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan and Missouri — just to name a few.

But threats of a lawsuit should not keep our lawmakers from reforming state law to restore a more balanced bargaining position between Connecticut and its government unions.

For years, public sector unions in Connecticut have succeeded in passing laws that grant them special status.

Public sector union contracts, for example, can override state law. Whole sections of state law are rewritten by contract. Then, these contracts don't have to be voted on by the legislature — they are "deemed approved" if they just sit on the legislative calendar for 30 days.

Another carve out: At the local level, if an elected municipal board votes down a union contract, it is then subject to decisions made by an arbitrator, with zero recourse no matter what mandate that arbitrator imposes.

This is not how it's done in other states. In other states, unions do not get to rewrite state law, have their contracts escape legislative scrutiny or override local elected officials.

They also don't have 30-year contracts, which is how long the state employee benefits contract will have existed assuming it does — finally — come to an end in 2027.
For context, this contract was first agreed to by then Gov. John Rowland and the unions in 1997. The unions have agreed to reopen the contract since 1997. But because the state has to ask the unions for permission to renegotiate, state officials come to the bargaining table already at a serious disadvantage.

Connecticut's laws privilege public-sector unions over ordinary citizens. During budget negotiations, a number of the proposals to save the state money were rejected because they contradict union contracts at the state or local level.

The results of this privilege are clear. Census figures show that the average state employee in Connecticut earns $10,000 more a year than state employees in Massachusetts, and $5,000 more a year than state employees in New York.

By paying wages similar to Massachusetts, Connecticut could save $500 million a year — or $250 million a year if we paid wages similar to New York.

And that's just pay. Public employee benefits in Connecticut are also better than benefits offered in many other states, and are better than those for most private-sector union employees.

It takes courage to confront the public-sector unions' power. But it's time. Because, after all, just how much power should the unions have to determine how our state is run?

Suzanne Bates is policy director at the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a free-market think tank.

HARTFORD

http://www.wfsb.com/story/36465270/h...ial-bankruptcy

Quote:
Hartford pension recipients are right to be worried about potential bankruptcy
Spoiler:
As the debate over a Connecticut state budget continues, one of the big questions is what to do about Hartford.

The city is asking for $40 million in additional state aid. It said if it doesn't get it, bankruptcy is almost certain.

All week, the I-Team has been exploring what that will mean if it happens.

It spoke with a pair of retirees in Detroit who've been through it and they said people relying on a Hartford city pension are right to be worried.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said his city will run out of money this fall unless state aid arrives.

One of the things the bankruptcy court will do is figure out everyone the city owes money to and all will take a hit.

That includes retirees.

In Detroit, the I-Team looked at how the city resolved the largest municipal bankruptcy case in history. Now, the city is booming.

While many officials said it was good to get it over and done with, one major warning came from retirees who continue to feel the pain every month.

As the first whispers of bankruptcy were heard in greater Detroit, Don Taylor's phone started ringing. Taylor was the president of the Retired Detroit Police and Firefighters Association.

"We hooked up a special hotline because we couldn't handle all the calls," Taylor said.

As the president, he said he knew he had to be ready for his 6,000 members.

First, they were told their pensions and health care would be protected. However, as the size of Detroit's shortfall became clear, some estimates put the reductions for retirees at 40 percent or more.

For his members, Taylor said that might not be survivable.

"Once you retire you learn to live on the income you have coming in and any reduction in that is very difficult for any retiree to replace," he said. "Most people don't hire somebody at 70 or 80 years old and get back into the job market at that time."

"I could have gone elsewhere and made a whole lot more money but I was concerned about the City of Detroit and the fact that I did have a pension," said William Davis, Detroit Active & Retired Employees Association.
…..
Davis said the people in Hartford should be nervous.

"You need to be nervous. You need to be aware of what's going on," Davis said. "Don't believe the suits when they come in and tell you it's going to be all right. It wasn't [for me]."

In the end, the certainty of a settlement won the day.

Members voted to approve the concessions.

One union leader even printed buttons that said "you can't eat principles" as a response to those who said they'd vote "no" on principle.

Thursday, the I-Team's Capital City in Crisis series continues with a look at the suburbs and what they can expect if Hartford does file for bankruptcy.

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Old 09-28-2017, 01:45 PM
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FLORIDA
TAMPA
https://www.ai-cio.com/news/tampa-re...d-rate-return/
Quote:
Tampa Retirement Fund Lowers Assumed Rate of Return
Reduction to be phased in over five years.
Spoiler:
The city of Tampa’s General Employees’ Retirement Fund has voted to lower its assumed rate of return to 7.5% from 8%, according to recently released minutes from its August board of trustees meeting.

The board agreed to phase in the reduction. As of January 1, 2018, the rate of return will be set at 7.9%, after which it will be lowered an additional 10 basis points per year over the next five years until it reaches 7.5%.

Aon Hewitt had been hired to provide a quantitative analysis on reducing the actuarial rate of return assumption, and the impact various scenarios would have on the unfunded liability, funded ratio of the pension fund, and projected employer contributions. Representatives from the company reviewed multiple scenarios with the board concerning the impact of lowering the assumed rate of return in a single year, versus phasing the reduction.

One of the reasons cited for phasing in the reduction was because increased contributions in the upcoming years would be difficult for the city from a budgetary standpoint.

The decision to lower the rate of return assumption came just after the fund reported a one-year return of 15.26% gross of fees, and 14.65% net of fees as of June 30. As of July 31, the total fund value stood at approximately $705.6 million, which was up approximately $10 million from the previous month. Through July 31, the fund is up 12.09% gross of fees on a fiscal year to date basis. Over the five-year period ending July 31, 2017, the fund is up 9.8% gross of fees annualized compared to the policy index of 9.1% for the same time period. The current funded ratio of the fund is 89%.

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MICHIGAN
DEARBORN
CRIMINAL OFFICIAL
http://www.wxyz.com/news/region/wayn...aught-stealing
Quote:
Former Dearborn city clerk still gets pension, despite being caught stealing
Spoiler:
DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) - Caught red handed, new video obtained exclusively by 7 Action News shows Michigan State Police busting the former Dearborn clerk stealing cash from city hall.
Despite her taking hundreds, we've discovered the city is still paying Kathleen Buda a sizable pension.
…..
MSP conducted a thorough investigation, that led to the former clerk's career coming to an end.
City Council President Pro Tem Thomas P. Tafelski says this was a clear sign a system of checks and balances was broken.
"It's a problem and so it needs to be addressed. The public needs to know what's going on," says Tafelski.
People we talked to are even more shocked to learn the city still pays Kathleen Buda more than $3,300 a month in pension.
Randa Abdulhadi, another citizen of Dearborn says she finds that to be totally inappropriate given what took place.
"Stealing is stealing. Regardless of the situation. I don't think she should receive a pension," she says.
MSP strategically placed the hidden camera inside the former clerk's office after getting complaints back in 2015. Only 7 Action News was there in December of that year, as troopers raided the clerk's office.
Shortly after in January 2016, Buda retired from the job that paid her $72,555 a year. She had worked for the city for more than 20 years.
"When something like this goes out, it puts the city in a bad light no matter who it is," says Tafelski.
He says the city law department required Buda still be paid roughly $11,000 in unused time off. Then, in court on June 22nd this year, Buda pled no contest to felony embezzlement, as part of a plea deal to avoid prison time.
She was sentenced July 21st to 2 years probation and a small restitution of roughly $1,600. Her monthly pension was only reduced by roughly $50 by the court.
Peter Henning, a highly respected former federal prosecutor and Law Professor at Wayne State University explains, "What the rule is in this state, is that it's only from the date of your first criminal act that you start losing your pension benefit."
Henning adds it might be the law, but may also be unfair to taxpayers.
"You earn your pension because of work over a long period of time, but how long was she also dipping into the till? These are the people that have to be the most accountable," says Henning.
We called and emailed Buda for a response to our story, but she refused comment. She also would not open the door after we visited her at home.
The city's Mayor, Jack O' Reilly Jr. also declined to do an interview about the city's plans to prevent further abuse.

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Old 09-28-2017, 01:45 PM
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RHODE ISLAND
DISABILITY
http://ripr.org/post/raimondo-vetoes...towns#stream/0

Quote:
Raimondo Vetoes Firefighter Disability Pension Bill; Says It Would Hurt Cities And Towns' Finances

Spoiler:
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has vetoed a bill making it easier for firefighters to get disability pensions, saying it would reverse fiscal progress made by the state's cities and towns.

The bill would create a presumption that any firefighter unable to do their work due to stroke or heart disease is presumed to have gotten that ailment as part of their work. That would enable firefighters to get tax-free disability pensions at two-thirds of their salary.

Supporters say that almost 40 states offer the heart ailment presumption to firefighters, and that the benefit is justified based on the dangerous aspects of their work. Lawmakers passed the measure during a special legislative session on September 19.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Frank Lombardi (D-Cranston), cleared both chambers by large margins. A companion House bill sponsored by Rep. Robert Craven (D-North Kingstown) did not get a vote in the Senate.
In her veto message, Raimondo said the bill would cause “an extraordinary departure from current practice.” She noted how General Treasurer Seth Magaziner has said the measure would increase the unfunded liability for the Municipal Employees' Retirement System (MERS) by $4 million. (Magaziner called on lawmakers to not pass the bill.)

"In addition," Raimondo said in her veto message, "this change will also increase costs for municipalities outside MERS, which have approximately the same number of firefighters as MERS municipalities -- and as a result, total pension cost growth at the local level could approach $3 million per year were this bill to become law."

Raimondo goes on to say the presumption for heart ailments leading to disability pensions would move "Rhode Island in the opposite direction" from the kind of tools municipalities need "to control costs, maintain sound fiscal footing and balance budgets without the need to raise taxes on homeowners and businesses."

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