PERS board

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. 

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PERS 2020 Report

Mississippi’s defined benefit pension fund was hit hard by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi released its annual comprehensive annual financial report on December 15, 2020 for fiscal 2020, which ended June 30 and the plan continues to take on water.

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PERS Reform

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.

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PERS SLRP

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.

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PERS Part 2

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?

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PERS Investment

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.

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MS PERS

Every two years, the actuaries for Mississippi’s defined benefit pension system release a report that examines the economic and demographic outlooks that underpin the financial planning. The newest one was released last month and the actuaries make some interesting recommendations for the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS).

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PERS AG Opinion

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.

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