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.
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.
The state’s budgetary process, which starts in the summer, is already under way and Gov. Phil Bryant unveiled his $6.266 billion proposed budget for fiscal 2020, which starts July 1. That represents a $170 million increase from last year. The biggest ticket item in the increase is $75 million to cover an increased taxpayer costs for the state’s defined benefit pension plan.
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 ninth annual report, called the Financial State of the States, uses data from each state’s comprehensive annual financial report to determine the financial standing of each. Mississippi was rated as a “sinkhole” state, which means its $5.7 billion in assets are not enough to cover its $14 billion in liabilities.
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.
The Mississippi Legislature applied a bandage to the state’s infrastructure funding woes with a recent infrastructure package that includes some bond issues and the redirection of use tax revenue to cities and counties. But to close a long-term wound, the Legislature might have some problems to solve that aren’t of its making.