Thirty five years after it was closed, MRS still covers 1,510 retirees in 19 cities.
For decades, the COLA automatically increased as the U.S. dealt with historically low inflation. The solution for the Board of Trustees is simple: Tie PERS’ COLA to the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI.
The board of trustees for the state’s Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) made an important, if unheralded, move recently when it voted unanimously to use a somewhat more realistic projection of its rate of return on investments. This matters because an overly optimistic projection can mask a coming decrease in the solvency of the fund, which is already severely under-capitalized.
Mississippi’s defined benefit pension system had a banner year for its investments in fiscal 2021 and the financial breathing room could be a springboard for real reform that ensures its long-term viability.
The Mississippi Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review issues an annual report on the state’s defined benefit pension system. Normally, the PEER report tends to be moderate in its analysis of PERS, but this one released on May 11 admits that demographics, lower than expected wage inflation by contributing members and lower than expected investment returns are combining to scuttle the plan’s bottom line.
The time for can-kicking is past when it comes to fixing Mississippi’s defined benefit pension system. The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi could soon ask taxpayers to increase their contribution to the pensions of state and local employees for the second time in two years.