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  #1251  
Old 09-11-2017, 09:10 PM
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CONNECTICUT

http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2017/0...on-compromise/

Quote:
Malloy pitches pension compromise
JACOB STERN SEP 07, 2017
STAFF REPORTER
In an effort to jump-start state lawmakers’ stalled budget negotiations, Gov. Dannel Malloy on Tuesday offered a major compromise, cutting in half his proposed shift of teacher pension costs from states to municipalities.
Connecticut has now missed its July 1 budget deadline by more than two months, making it one of just two states without a budget for fiscal year 2018. Even after the ratification in late August of a $1.5 billion state-employee concessions deal negotiated by Malloy, the state faces a projected $1.6 billion deficit in fiscal year 2018. Over the next two fiscal years, that number will rise to $3.5 billion.
The governor’s original budget would have required cities and towns to pay $400 million of teachers’ $1.2 billion annual pension bill, which, as of now, falls entirely on the state. Under Malloy’s new plan, municipalities would pay just $200 million, with the remaining $1 billion coming out of state coffers. Malloy told the CT Mirror on Tuesday that he hopes the compromise dispels the notion that he has been inflexible during the negotiations.

....
The debate over who should foot the teacher pension bill is part of a broader dispute over how the state and municipalities should share the fiscal burden. During negotiations, the debate pits an overwhelming majority of lawmakers from both parties against the Malloy administration.
Representative Dave Yaccarino, R-North Haven, said Republicans would like to see municipalities’ portion of the teacher pension bill reduced to zero.
“I don’t agree with any of that,” he said. “I don’t agree with that at all mainly because that’s not solving state budget issues. It’s just a temporary fix.”
Yaccarino added that Republicans are united against the proposal. He also estimated that 95 percent of Democrats are opposed.
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:11 PM
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MARSHALL COUNTY, ILLINOIS

http://www.eastpeoriatimescourier.co...-pension-costs

Quote:
Marshall County may tax levy for pension costs



LACON — Marshall County officials are anticipating a 12.7 percent hike in the tax levy for 2018, partly to begin addressing a huge unfunded liability in a pension plan for some elected officials.

The levy would increase from about $2.78 million this year to $3.12 million in 2018 under a preliminary budget approved by the County Board Finance Committee last week.

“This is a pretty healthy tax increase,” noted member Brad Lindstrom.

Any levy increase would affect only the county portion of a homeowner’s property tax bill, not the total amount. The county tax rate is only about $1 per $100 assessed value, and the county share of the tax is typically only about 10 percent of the total.

Much of the increase would stem from payments to the Elected County Officials retirement program that supplements the basic Illinois Municipal Retirement that covers many non-elected county employees.

The county costs of the retirement plan have accelerated much faster than the basic state retirement fund or separate Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Personnel Plan and have contributed to an unfunded liability that is approaching $4 million, officials said.


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Old 09-11-2017, 09:37 PM
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KENTUCKY

this one will be a mega-post -- there's a lot of Kentucky pension stuff going on now b/c of a special legislative session, etc.

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news...s=&from=global

Quote:
IRS departure, pension costs have Covington looking at tax hike

When the property tax bills go out this month, Covington homeowners might notice the effect of the state pension problem. And they might notice the effect of the Internal Revenue Service's decision to close its Covington facility.

Those are two reasons cited by Covington city officials why they're considering raising the property tax.

The City Commission called a special meeting for 5:15 p.m. Thursday to vote on raising the rate to bring in 4 percent more revenue than the previous year, estimated to bring in $340,000 more.

That means for a $100,000 house, the owner would pay $14 more, with the rate going from $313 to $327.

It's the maximum increase allowed by state law not subject to a recall petition by voters.

.....
The state pension problem also looms large in Covington's future. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is expected to call a special session in October to address the state's $40 billion pension debt. Johnston and other city officials, based on some estimates, fear the city's pension costs might rise by more than $2 million a year.

That, combined with the IRS leaving, would punch a $4 million hole in Covington's budget, Johnston said.

Mayor Joe Meyer said he's undecided on whether to raise the property tax but warned the city would face budget cuts if the tax rate isn't increased.


http://www.the-messenger.com/opinion...df9b74275.html

Quote:
Beshear's attitude toward pension crisis belies the facts


Anyone notice the amount of press coverage The Messenger has devoted lately to Kentucky state pensions? And rightly so! Reported underfunding (that's debt!) has reached between $30 billion to $40 billion dollars, depending on the source. To put that into perspective, the entire state budget for 2017 is $34 billion dollars! While some may point out that Kentucky's "debt" is not the highest, analysts rate ours at No. 50, dead last among states in fiscal ability to resolve the problem. I wonder how many Big K T-shirts that will sell?

The current administration must now begin to determine how the state can dig itself out of the hole that previous administrations have dumped in their lap -- certainly not an enviable task. Several rightly forewarn that many subsequent decisions could be painful and, probably, controversial (translation: let the taxpayer beware!). Mr. Fletcher offers no advice, however, if they just read ex-Gov. Beshear's book, "People Over Politics" (The Messenger, Aug. 29), they will find a simple solution, i.e. "common sense" and "nonpartisanship." Why hasn't anyone else thought of this?

So, how did Kentucky arrive at this point? Mr. Beshear shrugs it off in saying "it took over two decades to get into such a dilemma." However, records show that, in 2002, the two largest programs, Non-Hazardous and Teachers were funded at 100 percent and 90 percent, respectively. Records also show from 2006 to 2016, there was negative cash flow of $100 million from the system every year except 2011 (when the state borrowed $465 million to slow the flow) and debt rose from $9 billion to $30+ billion! I'm sure Mr. Beshear would not like to be reminded that eight of those years were under his watch!

Perusing the consultant's report (available online), you find a relentless drain of system assets kicked into high gear during Mr. Beshear's years steering the ship. I wonder if he was putting "People over Politics" as he and his elected and appointed cronies continued the pillaging of the pension system through gaming the backloading provisions (47 percent of the debt), reducing state contributions to the system to "redistribute" funds to pay for pet projects (15 percent) and pursuing ever-riskier investments in order to cover under-performing investment decisions (33 percent). So much for the "common sense" theory!

http://www.courier-journal.com/story...elp/632700001/

Quote:
Kentucky Pension Crisis: Benefit counselors are swamped but online help is available

With last week's release of recommendations by PFM Consulting Group on how to solve Kentucky's pension crisis, questions about the Kentucky Retirement Systems benefits have been on the rise.

KRS posted on Facebook Thursday: "We understand that our members would like to come to Frankfort to meet with a retirement benefits counselor face to face. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing discussion about potential pension changes, our appointment availability is extremely limited."
http://weku.fm/post/proposed-pension...-worker-exodus

Quote:
Proposed Pension Changes Bring Fears Of State Worker Exodus

More state workers retired last month than the year before amid concerns that the legislature and Gov. Matt Bevin will make changes to state retirement plans.

David Smith, executive director for the Kentucky Association of State Employees, said state workers have been retiring after consultants hired by the state recommended drastic changes to the pension systems.


“There are folks that are saying you know what, I don’t care, I’m going to lock in my retirement now and get out while I can and fight it as a retiree if they go and change the retiree benefits,” he said.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that there was a 20 percent jump in state worker retirements last month.

Last week, a consulting group recommended that the state claw back cost-of-living raises given to state pensioners, raise the retirement age and ban workers from saving up sick days to boost their benefits.

“Who are they going to replace them with if they truly offer up what they’re proposing or what was proposed? Who is going to want to work for state government? I wouldn’t,” Smith said.


http://www.courier-journal.com/story...ely/633578001/

Quote:
Kentucky pension crisis: Bevin, top legislators reject reversing cost of living adjustments

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The controversial recommendation of the state's pension consultant – to roll back benefits of current retirees enhanced over the years by cost of living adjustments – appears to be dead.

"Nobody, neither myself nor anyone in the legislature, thinks that we should be clawing back pay adjustments – COLAs as they are called – from retirees. It makes no sense," Gov. Matt Bevin said in an interview on WHAS Radio's Leland Conway program Wednesday morning.

House Speaker Jeff Hoover, a Jamestown Republican told reporters in Frankfort later Wednesday of the recommendation, "It’s highly unlikely that that’s going to take place."

And Senate President Robert Stivers, a Manchester Republican who spoke to reporters at an impromptu news conference with Hoover, said, "That's a recommendation of PFM. And they do not have a seat" in the Kentucky General Assembly.

http://www.messenger-inquirer.com/ne...20a355b12.html

Quote:
Pension legislation will not be based solely on consultant's recommendations, Bowen said

State and county employees who are concerned about how coming changes to the state's pension systems will affect them will have time to make informed decisions before the changes become law, state Sen. Joe Bowen told members of the Rotary Club of Owensboro on Wednesday.

Bowen, an Owensboro Republican and co-chairman of the state Public Pension Oversight Board, said any changes that legislators make to the public employee, teacher and state trooper retirement systems won't go into effect immediately upon passage. After the meeting, Bowen said the date the changes become law will likely be "closer to July 1 than Jan. 1."

http://www.messenger-inquirer.com/ne...e713bd292.html

Quote:
County likely to approve pension divorce resolution

A majority of Daviess Fiscal Court members say they approve separating the County Employees Retirement System from Kentucky's sinking pension authority.

Commissioners and Judge-Executive Al Mattingly are expected to pass a resolution on Thursday, Sept. 7, that would throw the county's support behind any such effort, joining at least three dozen other local governments in the commonwealth who say action is needed to protect one of the few remaining mostly-funded Kentucky Retirement Systems accounts.

http://www.courier-journal.com/story...ase/643032001/

Quote:
Kentucky pension crisis: Local governments face 50 to 60% increase in pension costs

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Pension costs could jump 50 to 60 percent next year for local governments across the state, according to a letter sent to them Thursday by state Budget Director John Chilton.

To pay its share, Louisville Metro Government's cost of its employees' pensions would jump from $76.5 million this year to $120 million next year. For Jefferson County Public Schools, the pension tab for non-teachers would go from $36.4 million this year to $54.8 million.

Chilton's letter notified hundreds of local government employers across the commonwealth of the specific dollar amount of increased pension costs each can expect when their new fiscal year begins next July 1.

Chilton's letter noted that local governments are confronting the same dilemma faced by state government in addressing the pension crisis. "The obvious problem is most employers cannot afford the additional pension contributions, ..." Chilton wrote. "The pension plans are in a crisis but so are employer budgets."

The increased cost to all local governments combined would be about $345.5 million next year, the letter says.

The letter went to local government employers who have employees in the County Employees Retirement Systems, or CERS, pension plans. JCPS is affected because, while its teachers are in the separate Teachers' Retirement System, its many non-teaching employees like cooks and bus drivers are in the CERS plans.


http://www.courier-journal.com/story...vin/640952001/

Quote:
Legalize pot and gambling to fund Kentucky's pensions? 'Not going to happen,' Bevin says


Correction: An original version of this story misstated who suggested legalizing casino gambling and marijuana in Kentucky. It has been updated to reflect WHAS' Leland Conway asked Gov. Matt Bevin about those two options for gaining extra state revenue.

Kentucky has a $40 billion pension problem, and legalizing weed or casino gambling could help solve it.

But not while Matt Bevin is the state's governor.

Last week, PFM Group of Philadelphia, the firm studying Kentucky's pension crisis, reported a series of recommendations for the state to get its pension debt under control. The huge cost to resolve the pension crisis has some legislators and others suggesting ways to raise state revenue without raising taxes-- such as legalizing casino gambling and marijuana.

The latest on pensions: Bevin, top legislators reject reversing cost of living adjustments

In an interview with WHAS Radio, Leland Conway asked Bevin if legalizing gambling and weed were on the table. Bevin said he doesn't believe the benefits of legalizing expanded gambling would offset "the societal costs."

When asked about legalizing marijuana, he said following Colorado's lead "is not going to happen while I'm governor."

http://wkuherald.com/news/caboni-add...a064809c1.html

Quote:
Caboni addresses potential changes to pension system, effects on WKU

With the crisis of Kentucky's pensions ever looming, President Timothy Caboni said WKU is looking at the potential implications changes to the pension system may have on current and future employees.

In an email, sent to faculty and staff, Caboni said "we must recognize some change is likely inevitable, and it is better for us to engage proactively in a conversation with policy-makers as they wrestle with these very complex issues rather than waiting for them to make their decisions."

"To that end, representatives from the six public universities and the KCTCS system whose employees are impacted by changes to the pension systems have been working on a set of principles that we agree are in the best interests of our institutions and our employees," Caboni said. "The collective position advocates for no change for current employees."

According to the email, this may mean that all new hires will be using a "403(b) type defined contribution plan, which is consistent with what many public universities...currently offer."

http://www.dailyindependent.com/news...ac64b320c.html

Quote:
Educators frustrated with potential pension reforms

FRANKFORT No one expected teachers to enthusiastically embrace recommendations to reform their pension system an outside consulting group, but the intensity of their unhappiness may have surprised some lawmakers and Gov. Matt Bevin.

“They are livid,” said Regina Huff, who is a special education teacher in the Whitley County schools and a Republican state representative who will have to vote on pension reform in a proposed special session.

Huff’s colleagues also aren’t pleased with comments Bevin made in a Facebook video criticizing teachers who might choose to retire before changes to their retirement benefits can be enacted as selfish.

Huff said teachers see those comments as “degrading and hurtful” and they “just added to the frustrations” of teachers, many of whom are considering retirement.

One in five of Kentucky’s public schoolteachers have accrued the necessary number of years for full retirement benefits, according to Beau Barnes, deputy executive secretary and general counsel for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System.

Barnes said KTRS received 622 visits in August from teachers considering retirement. Last August, the number was 525.

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  #1254  
Old 09-11-2017, 10:00 PM
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SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/som...aise-1.2240724

Quote:
Some Scranton retirees to get pension raise

Scranton must pay raises on a small portion of the pensions of certain retired police officers and firefighters who retired under a buyout program offered in 1989, a labor arbitrator ruled.

The ruling will impact only a handful of retirees. The exact amount to be paid has not yet been calculated, but the payout is expected to be small, said Ned Abrahamsen, the city’s labor counsel.

The case stems from an incentive offered to police officers who retired between March 1, 1989, and April 30, 1989. The officers were awarded pensions of 60 percent of their final salary, as opposed to the normal 50 percent. Firefighters are entitled to the same benefits.

Under the agreement, the pension fund pays the regular retirement benefit. The other 10 percent comes directly from the city’s general fund.

Over the years, retirees received cost-of-living increases. In 2014, the city halted the increases because the pension funds are financially unsound. The police and fire departments challenged that in court, but it was upheld earlier this year.

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Old 09-12-2017, 07:10 AM
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CONNECTICUT

http://www.yankeeinstitute.org/2017/...ing-to-survey/

Quote:
Business owners overwhelmingly want state pension reform, according to survey


A survey by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association shows that business owners want Connecticut to reform its state retirement benefits by a wide margin.
Of the business owners surveyed, 91 percent want reforms to Connecticut’s state pension system, which includes eliminating overtime from pension calculations and moving employees into a 401(k) style defined contribution plan.
Such reforms could lower pension costs in the future and prevent further tax increases and budget stalemates.
But the possibility for reforms to the state employee retirement system were delayed when the state legislature narrowly approved a $1.5 billion concessions deal with state union leaders on July 31st. Under the terms of the concessions deal negotiated by Gov. Dannel Malloy, the retirement benefits contract is extended until 2027, making it a 30 year contract.

....
Connecticut’s pension plans remain woefully underfunded, despite the state contributing the actuarially required payment for the past six years. During that time, unfunded pension obligations have actually increased, leaving Connecticut’s pension system for both state employees and teachers underfunded by $34.8 billion, according to official estimates.
Pension payments – which, along with debt service and retiree healthcare, are known as “fixed costs” – are one of the fastest growing state government expenses and threatens to put more pressure on future state budgets.
The cost of those underfunded pensions and retiree healthcare has grown more than the 2011 and 2015 tax increases combined, according to Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes.
This year, Connecticut will pay $1.5 billion toward the state employee retirement system and an additional $1.9 billion toward the teachers retirement system.
The annual state payment into SERS will grow to $2.2 billion by 2027 after the state extended the unfunded pension payments until 2046. The cost of teacher pensions could to grow to more than $6 billion by 2032, if the system is not reformed in some way.
According to a study on the Connecticut state employee retirement system, moving all new hires to a defined contribution plan would save $100 million over ten years but its true value would lie in reducing Connecticut’s long-standing liabilities and make the pension system more solvent.

Connecticut is one of only four states which set state employee retirement benefits through collective bargaining rather than through state statute.
Unlike state employees, teacher pensions are set in statute and can be reformed through legislative action, although there has yet been little interest from lawmakers to make changes.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:12 AM
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KENTUCKY

http://wkuherald.com/news/wku-prepar...71dbadd43.html

Quote:
WKU prepares for potential changes to pension system

In the midst of a state-wide pension crisis, WKU is looking at how potential changes to the pension system may affect employees, according to university administrators.

In an email sent to all faculty and staff, President Timothy Caboni said "we must recognize that some change is likely inevitable, and it is better for us to engage proactively in a conversation with policy-makers as they wrestle with these very complex issues rather than waiting for them to make their decisions."

"To that end, representatives from the six public universities and the KCTCS system whose employees are impacted by changes to the pension systems have been working on a set of principles that we agree are in the best interests of our institutions and our employees," Caboni said. "The collective position advocates for no change for current employees."

According to the email, this may mean that all new hires will be using a "403(b) type defined contribution plan, which is consistent with what many public universities ... currently offer."

.....
Caboni also wrote about the Kentucky Employees Retirement System and Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System, saying "the current situation ... is unsustainable." Caboni said because of rising percentages universities contribute to retirement programs, other areas on campus, including "tuition revenue and state appropriations," are going toward contributions to pension.

"Without substantive reform, we soon may find ourselves in the untenable position of cutting campus budgets to cover our pension obligations," Caboni said. "Further, we should not balance the state pension systems on the backs of parents and students who already already are shouldering the majority of the burden of their public higher education costs."

Caboni concluded his email by saying recommendations from the state pension consultant are only recommendations and may not actually be implemented, and said the pension conversation will be ongoing at WKU.


http://www.glasgowdailytimes.com/new...69cf13735.html

Quote:
Riley talks pensions with teachers

GLASGOW — About 250 teachers and retired teachers showed up at the Barren County High School auditorium Monday evening looking for answers about their retirement security.

They got a few — but not all they wanted from Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, a former teacher, coach and administrator at the school because Riley, like the teachers, is still waiting to see the plan.

“The governor’s office, the House and Senate leadership are all meeting trying to come up with a proposal,” Riley said. “Now, what that is, I don’t know yet.”

Riley was responding to concerns by teachers over recommendations by a consultant hired to review Kentucky’s badly underfunded public pension systems. Combined, the multiple systems face anywhere between $37 billion and $60 billion in unfunded liabilities.

The PFM Group called for significant changes to the retirement systems in Kentucky which are among the worst funded in the country, including a “claw back” of cost-of-living adjustments granted over the years and raising the retirement age to 65.

Those haven’t been well received by state employees and especially by teachers.

Gov. Matt Bevin has said he’ll call a special session this fall to enact changes. Originally, Bevin wanted lawmakers to also enact tax reform in the special session, but he’s backed off that, heeding lawmakers concerns that it’s asking too much to do both in one special session.

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Old 09-12-2017, 12:07 PM
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KENTUCKY

https://www.city-journal.org/html/bl...ues-15436.html

Quote:
Bluegrass Blues
Kentucky’s pension troubles indicate where much of the country is headed.
Steven Malanga
September 8, 2017 Economy, finance, and budgets

States like Illinois and New Jersey and cities like Chicago and Detroit have attracted national headlines for their pension problems, but for absolute distress, no place has greater trouble with its retirement system than oft-ignored Kentucky. The Bluegrass State’s pension plan has lower funding levels than any other state plan, and one of its major pension funds is just four years from insolvency. The state already devotes about 13 percent of its revenues to pensions—about double what other states spend—and it’s not nearly enough to fix the problem. What should be most troubling to people outside of Kentucky, however, is that what got it into this mess is only a more severe version of the problems afflicting many local-government pensions, whose funding levels have failed to recover even after a nine-year bull market. Where Kentucky stands right now, in other words, is where many other pension systems are heading.
According to Kentucky pension-system reports, the state owes at least $43 billion that it hasn’t funded in its pension system, though a state study, using more conservative estimates, suggests that the system could be as much as $64 billion in the hole—not counting $6 billion in unfunded retiree health-care costs. Since 2008, state contributions to the pension system have more than doubled, to $1.5 billion annually from $624 million, but it hasn’t been enough. Local governments face a 50 percent jump in pension costs next year. To fund the system adequately, the state would have to cut other spending by more than 15 percent, or raise taxes sharply. But Governor Matt Bevin rules that out: “I do not intend to raise taxes to pay for the sins of the past.”
Those sins are many. The conventional narrative is that government pension systems have gotten into trouble because politicians didn’t fund them sufficiently, but that’s only a small part of the story. According to PFM Consulting Group, about 15 percent of Kentucky’s debt can be traced to under-financing its annual required pension contributions. The far bigger problem is that Kentucky’s pension system, like those in other states, has employed dubious accounting standards that underestimated problems in the system. “Sadly, it seems past assumptions were often manipulated by the prior pension boards in order to minimize the ‘cost’ of pensions to the state budget,” Bevin and two legislative leaders wrote in a recent op-ed. “The result was to provide a false sense of security.”
Kentucky’s retirement system, for instance, used a technique known as “backloading,” which pushes off into the future payments that would reduce a system’s debt. That method sustained for years the illusion that the system was still affordable, even as its costs were mounting. Kentucky also used assumptions—such as how long its retirees would live—that proved wrong, with costs winding up higher than projected. Like many government systems, the state has also failed to meet its investment projections because they turned out to be too optimistic, and it enacted cost-of-living adjustments without properly accounting for them. Finally, the state designed costly benefits out of line even with other those offered to government workers in neighboring states—including allowing workers to retire early with full benefits. The average age at which Kentucky teachers retire, for instance, is 55, or about five years below the national average.

Still, Kentucky workers argue that their pensions are small and that they couldn’t possibly bear reductions to them. The state’s retired teachers receive on average a pension of just $36,244, according to press reports. But that number is misleading, because it includes everyone garnering payments, including those who worked only a few years and now receive partial pensions. By contrast, Kentucky teachers who retire with full benefits—and who generate the most costs in any system—do quite well. According to the pension plan’s most recent annual report, teachers retiring during fiscal 2016 with 30 years of service earned an average pension of $64,668, or 80 percent of their final average salary, while those who left with 25 years of service received $47,220, or 65 percent of final salary. By contrast, median annual household income in Kentucky is $43,470.

Facing this crisis, the state is considering recommendations made by its consultant, PFM Group, to end cost-of-living adjustments, raise the retirement age to 65, and enroll new hires in a 401(k) style plan instead of a defined-benefit pension. Employees object to any changes for current workers, arguing that their pension plans cannot be altered because of legislation that declares that retirement benefits for government workers “constitute an inviolable contract” in Kentucky. To them, this means that workers have the right to keep earning benefits for an entire career at the rate in effect when the state first hired them. By contrast, in federal court cases, judges with jurisdiction over private-sector pensions have consistently ruled that while a pension contract protects benefits that a worker has already earned, it doesn’t prohibit an employer from changing the terms of a pension plan for work that an employee hasn’t performed yet. How Kentucky courts resolve this issue may very well determine whether the state has a chance to fix its pension problems without steep tax increases or devastating cuts in government services. Though the state can’t make its current pension debt go away, it could save substantially by reforming benefits and then applying the savings to paying off its pension debt. One Kentucky labor leader has promised that if the state attempts such reform, workers “will storm the Capitol with torches and pitchforks.”
Whether taxpayers promise to do the same, if they get stuck with the state’s huge retirement bill, will probably determine Kentucky’s fiscal future.
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Old 09-12-2017, 01:35 PM
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KENTUCKY

http://www.kentucky.com/news/politic...172601831.html

Quote:
‘Irresponsible and defamatory.’ Ex-pension chief responds to Bevin’s ‘jail’ comment.

The former executive director of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, who Gov. Matt Bevin said “should be in jail,” defended himself Monday, blaming the massive state pension shortfall on governors and legislators who failed for decades to provide the retirement system with enough money.

“The governor’s statements are completely without foundation, totally irresponsible and defamatory,” said Bill Thielen, who led Kentucky Retirement Systens from 2011 to 2016.

In August, Bevin told a conference of local government leaders in Louisville that Thielen should be jailed over the current status of Kentucky’s public pension systems, which face tens of billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities.

“The former head of KRS, the director who oversaw this, is a guy named Bill Thielen,” Bevin said. “Bill Thielen should be in jail, and that’s a fact. And I don’t know who’s here from the media, but if this was a private company, if this was a private pension plan, he would be.”

Bevin never publicly explained what crimes he thought Thielen committed. The governor’s office didn’t respond that day to requests for more information about Bevin’s accusations.

In a lengthy statement Monday, Thielen said Kentucky’s elected leaders failed for 15 of 22 years, from 1992 to 2014, to pay the full “ARC,” or annual required contribution, that was deemed necessary every year to keep the state pension fund solvent. During the same period, state employees made their full contributions to KRS through paycheck deductions.

Thielen said this inadequate funding was aggravated by two economic recessions, in 2001 and 2008, that shrank the pension fund’s investment returns, and by cost-of-living adjustments that the General Assembly awarded to retirees without providing the money to pay for them.

By last year, the primary state pension fund had less than 14 percent of what it’s expected to need to meet future obligations to state retirees.

As executive director, Thielen said, he had no control over state leaders’ decisions to inadequately finance KRS. Nor did he control the agency’s investments, he said. The KRS board of trustees decides where to invest the pension money, based on the advice of KRS’ chief investment officer, he said.

“I have experienced an unblemished legal and administrative career of over 40 years serving federal, state and local governments,” Thielen said in his statement.

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Old 09-12-2017, 02:22 PM
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Mary Pat Campbell
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
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http://www.daily-journal.com/opinion...4.html#new_tab

Quote:
Chicago teacher pensions should be part of state plan

During the long-running school funding debate, there was much banter about Chicago getting $250 million for its teacher pensions.

The people from Chicago saw it as fair play. The state already kicks in for all other school pensions. Why shouldn't it pay for Chicago? Downstaters saw it as a big payoff for years of mismanagement.

In the end, it turns out Chicago didn't get the $250 million. They got $430 million. Moreover, the promise is that they will get continuing pension payments every year. No matter how you look at this agreement, the precedent has been set. More state funds will be flowing their way. A state that can't find a rational way to pay for its pension obligations has just taken on a whole big, new burden.

It's like the Titanic sending lifeboats to the Lusitania, saying "I can get that."

It might surprise you to learn the Teachers Retirement System for Illinois (TRS) does not include Chicago. Does that make any sense to you?

The pension system for Chicago teachers began in 1895. The state pension system for downstate teachers did not start until 1939. There were folks drawing pensions in Chicago when some downstate had nothing similar in place.

If you read the annual reports of these two institutions, you will find a surprise or two. Both are available online. The Chicago system claims that it is 51.8 percent funded. The state system is 39.8 percent funded. Maybe Chicago should send a payment to Springfield. In truth, neither of these numbers should make you feel proud.

Now, if Chicago gets the same share of funds from the state that everyone else does, it only makes sense to combine the two systems. That should save on administrative costs. A larger pot might also bring along better investment opportunities.

This is not going to save $430 million, of course. But it ought to save some. And in Illinois' condition, every dollar counts.

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Old 09-18-2017, 04:06 PM
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburb...y.html#new_tab

Quote:
Former Lincoln-Way chief Wyllie could lose
$321,000 annual pension if convicted

Since the former superintendent of Lincoln-Way High School District 210 retired in 2013, his annual pension, currently north of $321,000, has ranked among the top teacher pensions in Illinois.

But after a federal grand jury this week indicted Lawrence Wyllie on fraud charges stemming from his tenure leading the south suburban school district, he stands to lose that pension distinction — and income — if convicted.

Felony convictions for crimes related to a person's work as a school official qualify for pension forfeiture, and Wyllie's case would qualify if he's convicted, Teachers' Retirement System spokesman Dave Urbanek said Friday. Wyllie's current annual pension is $321,443.52.

Federal prosecutors this week alleged Wyllie, 79, of Naperville, hid the "true financial health" of District 210 by misusing millions in bond money and fraudulently spent district funds on personal projects, including Superdog, a dog-training school he ordered built.

Wyllie also pocketed more than $30,000 in unused vacation days and a retirement bonus he wasn't entitled to, prosecutors charged.

The charges against Wyllie marked the latest turn in a long, winding saga at the financially troubled school district and follow a yearlong investigation by the Daily Southtown that exposed questionable fiscal practices at Lincoln-Way, private uses of public resources and deals benefiting insiders, including Superdog.

In large part due to decisions made under Wyllie, the district's finances atrophied over the past decade, and its leaders in 2015 made a controversial decision to shutter Lincoln-Way North, a school opened in August 2008.

.....
But the former superintendent's pension is bigger than any of his annual salaries because it's derived through an obscure actuarial calculation that boosted his pension higher than the payment he would've received under the standard formula. That actuarial calculation has been eliminated for newer members of the Teachers' Retirement System.

Wyllie's initial pension was $289,860, according to the state.

As superintendent, Wyllie's highest gross earnings reached $276,307 during his last year — $13,000 less than his initial pension.

....
But, Urbanek said, TRS does two calculations on pensions: an actuarial assessment that he described as "something that's (not) easily understood" and a standard formula used for most.

No one who entered TRS on or after July 1, 2005, is eligible for the actuarial calculation, Urbanek said.

.....
There were two reasons why the actuarial formula created a pension "that exceeded (Wyllie's) highest salary," Urbanek said.

Wyllie had more than five decades of service with TRS, which is about double the average time a typical TRS retiree accumulates with the system, Urbanek said. He also retired in his 70s, while the average age last year for all TRS retirees was 59.

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