Imagine being able to vote yourself better retirement benefits while you’re a beneficiary of a retirement plan. That’s the scenario in Mississippi if the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi follows an opinion from the office of Attorney General Jim Hood and changes its present regulation. This would allow legislators and other statewide officials who are also PERS retirees to keep collecting their benefits while in office.
Mississippi’s pension system for state, county and municipal employees is slowly gaining fiscal ground, but it’s not fast enough to keep up with the coming demographic landslide of retirements.
When people normally think of a COLA, they think of a refreshing, bubbly and sweet beverage that goes great with a hamburger and fries. But in the world of public pensions, COLA is only sweet for the retiree. The overly generous and unsustainable COLA (cost of living adjustment) is one of the key factors on why the Public Employees’ Retirement System or PERS continues to struggle financially.
MRPEA – Mississippi Retired Public Employees’ Association Opposes Changes to PERS Despite Struggling Fund
The Mississippi Retired Public Employees’ Association has made its position clear in regard to the state’s defined benefit pension system that serves most state and local employees. The pension system is not to be touched.
For the 2017 fiscal year, employer and member contributions were $1.6 billion, a decrease of $4.7 million. The decrease is attributed to a decline in active members. For the 2017 fiscal year, benefit payments amounted to $2.5 billion, an increase of $110.2 million (4.7 percent) over the 2016 fiscal year. The increase in benefit payments was due to an increase in the number of benefit recipients.
The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi, better known as PERS, is the state’s ailing defined benefit pension program. Right now, the fund has a $16.6 billion unfunded liability, meaning the contributions of state and municipal employees and income from the plan’s investments aren’t enough to cover present and future benefits for retirees.