Mississippi State Government & Agencies
BPF strives to inform citizens and elected officials on its views regarding public policies that benefit or cause hard to Mississippi's economic condition. Bigger Pie believes sound public policy grounded in fiscal responsibility is a cornerstone to successful communities.
A cost of living adjustment should be related to the real world inflation rate. Mississippi PERS’ COLA at 3 percent is not. In 2005, the plan’s COLA payout to retirees was $211 million or about 18.9 percent of total benefits paid out. This year, it grew to almost $700 million, an increase of 7.6 percent from 2018 ($650 million). The COLA payouts are now 25.4 percent of all benefits paid to retirees.
Mississippi is the only state with a supplemental pension fund for its legislators (SLRP), seven states provide no pension benefits for legislators, most notably Alabama and Louisiana. The SLRP chug-a-lugs along with a funding ratio of 84.7%, while PERS and the pension fund for state troopers languish with funding ratios of 62.5% and 67.2% respectively.
A critical question for current and future PERS retirees and the state of Mississippi is this: Can PERS continue to pay its retiree obligations, its generous and growing COLA (13thcheck) and also rebuild its corpus to be there for the current employees who will be retiring in the decades to come?
Like most pension funds, the PERS plan pays a fee to investment managers to help the plan realize maximum earnings potential. Since 2009, PERS has paid more than $647 million in fees to outside money managers. Comparing PERS of Mississippi with three of its neighbors, the amount paid to the plan’s money managers has been on the increase over the decade.
When Mississippi finally enacted a lottery in August 2018, the reason that lawmakers went along with the controversial proposal was to generate revenue to help deal with the state’s infrastructure.
Transparency is the hallmark of a government that is for the people and by the people. The best way for citizens (not just media) to take a look beneath the hood to see the inner workings of government is the Freedom of Information Act request under the Mississippi Public Records Act — but keeping a check on government requires vigilance.