Pension Update September 17, 2012

September 17, 2012

Updates this week:

  • Loop Capital Markets: Tenth Annual Public Pension Funding Review. 2012 key points:
    • This is a much more watered down version compared to the 2011 report.
    • "The general acceptance of the ‘Rauh methodology' of calculating the present value of the liabilities is problematic in that it has made a bad situation appear even worse." Crazy talk. Their view:
    • Pension obligations are, at best, equivalent to the risk of the state that is on the hook, and clearly not "risk-free."
    • The appropriate rate to discount future pension liabilities is the taxable borrowing rate of the state involved
    • Ironically, the Catastrophists who argue that states are on the brink of default should be applying a higher discount rate to pension liabilities. This would then lower the present value of their liabilities.
    • "When using the two most common metrics to gauge the fiscal health of public pension plans, the ARC and funded ratio, the majority of state and local governments' pension plans slightly deteriorated over the last year. Nonetheless, there has been some substantial progress that has been achieved by a large number of states in reducing pension costs." Loop Capital Markets. September, 2012.
  • CALIFORNIA: Governor signs pension reform bill. September 12, 2012.
  • OHIO: Public pension changes pass Legislature. The pension bills include requests by the funds to raise premiums, lower payouts and tighten eligibility requirements for affected teachers, police and other public workers. After becoming law, the measures would take effect Jan. 7. Employee contribution rates would be gradually increased by increments from 10 percent of salary to 12.25 percent for those belonging to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, and from 10 percent to 14 percent for members of the State Teachers Retirement System. Members of OPERS and the School Employees Retirement System would not see an increase in contributions. The Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System board could adjust member contributions from 10 percent to up to 14 percent of September 13, 2012.

 Defined Contribution Plan States:

  • Alaska, Michigan (Mandatory)
  • Indiana, Oregon (Mandatory DC & DB Plans)
  • Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont Washington (Optional)

State by State:


  • Financial health of Alabama's two largest pension funds lags. Key measures of the financial health of the Retirement Systems of Alabama's two biggest pension funds have fallen 11 straight years, RSA records show. Those measures, which compare fund assets to future pension payments, have trailed national averages for seven years in a row. July 30, 2012.
  • Senate approves pension reform that affects new hires. April 10, 2012.
  • Pension reform won approval in the House and Senate Committees on March 22. The proposed plan sets a minimum retirement age of 56 for law enforcement employees, 62 for all other state employees. March 22, 2012.
  • State lawmakers unveil pension reform plan. March 7, 2012.


  • Treasurer's Office recalculates pension plans using a 5% rate of return. The resulting funding ratio of even the healthiest pension program drops to just 51%. Total unfunded liabilities soar to $37 billion. August 12, 2012.


  • Governor signs pension reform bill. September 12, 2012.
  • Legislature sends reform to Governor. The legislation:
    • Raises the retirement age to 67 from 55 for most new employees to get full benefits, and 57 from 50 for new public safety employees.
    • Changes the formulas for new employees upon which benefits are calculated.
    • Caps benefits for new public employees who make more than $110,100; or those who make more than $132,120 but don't get Social Security.
    • Eliminates pension "spiking, or inflating salary in the years before retirement to increase pension.
    • Eliminates most double dipping, or drawing a pension while working another government job.
    • Forbids felons from collecting pensions.
  • These changes are estimated to save between $52 billion and $72 billion over 30 years, according to CalPERS, one of the state's two largest pension funds. That was higher than estimates earlier in the week of $40 billion to $60 billion. CalSTRS, the pension fund for teachers, estimated there will be an extra $12 billion in savings on top of the CalPERS estimates. However, these revisions do nothing to solve the current more than $600 billion California unfunded pension Aug 31, 2012.
  • Current and retired judges will not be subject to the sweeping state pension changes outlined Tuesday by the governor and lawmakers, according to bench officers who were briefed on the details. Future judges, however, will likely have to contribute more to their pensions based on new rules that will require workers to pay at least half the costs of their pension benefits. Currently, judges pay 8 percent of their gross salaries toward their retirement. That figure could rise closer to 15 percent for judges joining the bench in Aug. 28, 2012.
  • Real Pension Reform: A California August 23, 2012.
  • Governor Brown's pension reforms are a sham. August 28, 2012.
  • Lawmakers still working on pension reform as session deadline-August 31-approaches. August 26, 2012.
  • Speaker Perez vows House will take action this month on comprehensive public pension reform, including spiking and airtime. August 15, 2012.
  • Even in bankruptcy, unions get special treatment. August 17, 2012.
  • CalPERS thuggery highlights pension scam. August 16, 2012.
  • Senate President says labor allies will not be happy about labor reform. August 6, 2012.
  • State has $62 billion in unfunded retiree healthcare obligations., July 30, 2012.
  • California's unfunded pensions are close to $500 billion. July 11, 2012.
  • Governor and Democrats fail to reach pension reform deal. Governor suggested talks continue during a month long recess that begins at the end of the week. July 4, 2012.
  • CalSTRS to take over $40 million loss in sale of NY tower. June 21, 2012.
  • Republicans blocked from California pension reform vote. June 22, 2012.
  • Retirement plan providers band together to stop Defined Benefit proposal in California. The legislation "would force employers with five or more employees to automatically enroll [in the state plan] if they don't provide a workplace savings plan," FSI spokesman Christopher Paulitz said. "It would disrupt a competitive and healthy market of retirement plan providers that are already serving employers of all sizes," he said. June 19, 2012.
  • Pension reform ballot measures fails in Senate. June 21, 2012.
  • Pension fund is down 4.8% this year. June 11, 2012.
  • California unions sue to prevent pension reforms as citizens turn against June 6, 2012.
  • Vote deals blow to public sector unions. Voters in San Diego (the nation's 8th-largest city) and San Jose (the 10th-largest) overwhelmingly approved big cuts to city workers' retirement benefits. June 6, 2012.
  • Assembly committee will not act on GOP pension reform bills. April 25, 2012.
  • California's Pension Tax. Wall Street Journal. April 22, 2012.
  • Pension reform panel looking at alternative hybrid plan. April 9, 2012.
  • CalSTRS's unfunded liability rises 13%; funding ratio falls to 69.4%. April 9, 2012.
  • CalPERS Board reduces discount rate from 7.75 % to 7.5%. This reduction will increase the contribution amount by $167 million/year and raise the annual contribution to CalPERS by more than $3.6 billion. Board ignored staff recommendation to cut the forecast to 7.25%. March 14, 2012.


  • Gov. Malloy plans topump more money annually into the underfunded pension fund. Malloy says the various moves would save taxpayers nearly $6 billion over the next 20 years, but the legislature's nonpartisan fiscal office said recently that one of Malloy's calculations on pensions was wrong by $3.1 billion over 20 years. 8, 2012.



  • Legislature adjourns after passing $11.2 billion budget, altering state pension scheme. Honolulu Star Advertiser. May 4, 2012.


  • Judicial pension reform plan goes to Governor. Legislation requires for increases in court fees and retirement contributions to offset the deficit. Idaho Press-Tribune. March 29, 2012.
  • House Committee unanimously approves changes to judicial pensions March 19, 2012.


  • House Speaker Madigan suggested a possible pension breakthrough in January. September 4, 2012.
  • S&P just lowered the state's bond rating to A-plus, keeps negative outlook. "The downgrade reflects the state's weak pension funding levels and lack of action on reform measures intended to improve funding levels and diminish cost pressures associated with annual contributions," said S&P analyst Robin Prunty in a statement. S&P had warned in March that a downgrade was in store if Illinois' longstanding fiscal problems were not dealt with. The lower rating also reflects Illinois' "continued financial weakness despite significant measures in the past two years to improve structural budget performance," Prunty said. The credit ratings agency kept a negative outlook on the lowered rating, citing the potential for further erosion of the state's pension liability over the next two years and budget risks due to the Jan. 1, 2015 expiration of big income tax rate increases enacted in 2011. It also keeps Illinois as the second lowest-rated U.S. state after California, which is rated A-minus by S&P. Illinois has the lowest rating Moody's 29.
  • Illinois' largest public pension fund, the $37 billion Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), is considering dropping its assumed rate of investment return from 8.5% to between 8.25% and 7.75%, based on advice from its actuary.Shifting to a 7.75% assumed rate of return would increase the pension's unfunded liabilities from the current 54.8% to 58.9%, and require the state to contribute an additional $600 million in 2014. TRS' board will make its final decision in August 24, 2012.
  • TRS pension fund consultant urges retirement system to reduce expected rate of return to 7.75% from 8.5%. August 23, 2012.
  • Moody's and S&P may lower Illinois credit rating over pension inaction. August 23, 2012.
  • State Treasurer Dan Rutherford stated that IL could face a multiple-notch downgrade based on pension liability and structural budget imbalance. He stated, "Illinois' available resources can neither pay off its massive debt nor cover the costs of providing needed state services to all of its citizens. Comprehensive, constitutional, and fair pension reforms are required to reverse this situation." August 23, 2012.
  • SIEU gives House Democrats Political Fund $87,000 the same day as special session on pension reform begins. August 20, 2012.
  • State Budget Solutions sends open letter to Governor Quinn: Stop legislators' pay until pension reform is passed. August 20, 2012.
  • Legislators adjourn without approving pension reform. August 17, 2012.
  • Pension debt more than doubles under new rules. August 2012.
  • Illinois must shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans. August 16, 2012.
  • A false choice in Illinois. August 16, 2012.
  • Illinois' pension math. The Senate bill will cut only a pittance of the state's total unfunded liabilities. At best, a little more than 3 percent of total retiree debt will be reduced. HB 1447's "reforms" exclude both the teachers and universities pension systems, meaning that almost 75 percent of the state's pension problems are off the negotiating table. Illinois legislators just haven't grasped the severity of the math. August 14, 2012.
  • Governor rejects unions' plan for pension reform. CBS Chicago. August 14, 2012.
  • Governor wants lawmakers to consider all-inclusive pension reforms sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz, imposing the same changes on pensions for downstate teachers, university workers, state employees and state lawmakers. August 9, 2012.
  • Governor Quinn states that without reform, the government will spend more on pensions than on education in 2016. August 6, 2012.
  • Gov. Quinn called a special session to start on August 17 to deal with pension reform. However, lawmakers are not close to an agreement., July 17, 2012.
  • Retirement debt. It is worse than you think. July 3, 2012.
  • Governor signs budget, calls for pension reform. July 1, 2012.
  • How the pension reform push spun out of control. June 3, 2012.
  • Lawmakers put off vote on pension reform as session ends. May 31, 2012.
  • Local pension accountability does not require higher taxes. May 27, 2012.
  • Pension reform debate gets heated in House over measure reducing COLA and requiring schools and universities to pay for costs of retirement benefits for employees. May 29, 2012.
  • The Chicago Tribune's investigative series on Illinois lawmakers manipulating the pension system, voting for their own outrageous pension benefits. May 26, 2012.
  • Senate committee kills bill that passed House unanimously to force local government to pick up the tab when it gives an ex-lawmaker a big paycheck to fatten his pension.Chicago Tribune. May 3, 2012.
  • Education pensions spending favors wealthy, suburban schools. 2, 2012.
  • Two professors propose hybrid pension reform April 16, 2012.
  • Unfunded retirees health care benefits amount to $54 April 8, 2012.


  • Indiana pension funds took a temporary hit last year and may not rebound as much as public workers would like, based on long-term economic trends outlined for lawmakers Tuesday. The state's public pensions collected 1 percent interest on average last year, rather than the 7 percent the Indiana Public Retirement System originally expected. That immediate hit, plus a long-term decline in expectations, led pension leaders to tell members of the General Assembly's Pension Management Oversight Committee that pension plans may have to kick in more money next year. The poor performance caused Indiana's unfunded pension liability to increase from $3.5 billion to $4.9 billion. August 15, 2012.




  • Legislative panel considers bond issue to shore up troubled pension September 2, 2012.
  • Kentucky's Pension Challenges: Opportunities for Real Reform. Making costs manageable may require current employees and retirees to further share the load by either paying more in employee contributions or accepting reduced retirement benefits going forward. August 2012.
  • Governor floats idea of "hybrid" pension plans for state and county workers, allowing current employees to keep their pensions but requiring new employees to pay into a 401k fund. August 20, 2012.
  • A state pension reform task force will make recommendations on December 7th to handle pension shortfalls. July 27, 2012.


  • On retirement, Governor Jindal cast as a major victory approval of a bill that would grant newly hired state workers a 401(k)-style "cash balance" plan, rather than a traditional defined-benefit pension. Jindal failed to win support for any measure that would apply to existing workers. June 4, 2012.
  • Senate kills bill to strip former legislators from state retirement system. April 25, 2012.
  • Legal Authority to Adjust State Pension April 16, 2012.


  • Senate panel votes to raise income tax, phase in pension split with counties over 4 years. March 8, 2012.


  • Governor signs school pension reform and appeals the Supreme Court ruling on 3 percent payroll cut. September 7, 2012.
  • Legislature sends school employee pension reform to Governor. The House plan would trim the system's long-term liability by $15 billion by pre-funding retirement health care, increasing payments by school workers and freezing school district legacy costs for one year. The system is facing a $45 billion to $50 billion unfunded liability.The bill calls for a study of how much it would cost to convert the pension system to a 401(k)-exclusive system. August 15, 2012.
  • GOP Fumbles: On verge of giving MEA huge pension win. August 14, 2012.
  • Comparing apples to lemons in pension reform. June 12, 2012.
  • House GOP hides behind rigged study. June 14, 2012.
  • Senators back away from pension reform, frustrating teachers now forced to cut budgets. June 14, 2012.
  • Senate may consider another bill when session begins July 18th, although school district budgets are due July 1st. June 14, 2012.
  • The bill passed in the House calls for pension contributions to rise 7% for hires between 1990-2010 and 4% for hires prior to 1990. Workers may opt-out of increase but receive a smaller multiplier; they may also freeze current pension benefit and move to 401k with a flat 4% employer contribution. June 14, 2012.
  • Mackinac reports the reform is based on a "rosy scenario." June 12, 2012.

New Hampshire

New Jersey

  • In bipartisan move, the Legislature puts judges' benefit contributions on the ballot. New Jersey voters will decide in November whether judges should contribute more toward their pensions and benefits, after the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a measure on July 30 during a special summer session. The Senate voted 28-0 in favor, and the Assembly voted 62-3, clearing the three-fifths majority required for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot. The Democratic-controlled Legislature quickly arranged the session after the state Supreme Court ruled that a 2011 law to increase public employee contributions to pensions and health benefits cannot apply to any sitting judge., July 31, 2012.
  • Senate panel advance constitutional amendment effort for judicial pension reform. July 26, 2012.
  • The State Supreme Court ruled that judges do not have to pay more for pension and health benefits, a defeat for Governor Chris Christie. April 24, 2012.
  • The Pinocchio State: Debt limitation clause in Constitution allows lawmakers to cut COLA and possibly all benefits. June 2, 2012.
  • Superior Court Judge Douglas Hurd upheld law that denies COLA for retirees until funding reaches targeted levels. In March, U.S. District Court Judge Anne Thompson dismissed another pension lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds. May 30, 2012.
  • A federal lawsuit brought by New Jersey public employee unions in an attempt to overturn last year's pension and benefit reforms was dismissed. U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson ruled on March 5 that the issue is not under federal jurisdiction because of the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which courts have held gives the states sovereign immunity over their own matters. March 6, 2012.

New York

  • The true cost of retiree health care (OPEB) entitlement totals at least $210 billion for NY's 89 largest state and local government employers. The estimates suggest total unfunded liability to come to $250 billion. September 2, 2012.
  • Pension fund for state and local government employees reported a negative 1 percent return on investment in the most recent quarter, dropping the overall value of the fund to $146.5 billion. The average employer contribution rate is almost 19 percent of salary for most public workers and nearly 26 percent for police and firefighters. August 20, 2012.
  • Pension costs expected to skyrocket for local governments and agencies in by 59% in 2013 compared to last year as officials warn that recent reforms will provide no immediate relief to the mounting expense. March 23, 2012.

North Dakota

  • Senate Bill 2108 as submitted to the Governor increases member and employer contributions for the NDPERS main retirement system, Judges, defined contribution and Highway Patrol systems by 1 percentage point each in January of 2012 and 2013. The law enforcement plan increase is .5% for the member and .5% for the employer. For the main retirement plan, the two-year increases will be from 10.3% for employees to 12.3%, and for employers, from 16.7 to 18.7% of compensation. Source: North Dakota Legislature.


  • Public pension changes pass Legislature. The pension bills include requests by the funds to raise premiums, lower payouts and tighten eligibility requirements for affected teachers, police and other public workers. After becoming law, the measures would take effect Jan. 7. Employee contribution rates would be gradually increased by increments from 10 percent of salary to 12.25 percent for those belonging to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, and from 10 percent to 14 percent for members of the State Teachers Retirement System. Members of OPERS and the School Employees Retirement System would not see an increase in contributions. The Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System board could adjust member contributions from 10 percent to up to 14 percent of salary. September 13, 2012.
  • State lawmakers poised to act on pension reform. The bills would change benefits for retirees, eligibility, cost of living increases, and other retirement benefits in a way that allows those closest to retirement to retain full benefits and those farther from retirement to receive potentially reduced benefits. September 10, 2012.
  • House panel plans August hearings on pensions. The pending pension bills include requests by the funds to raise premiums, lower payouts and tighten eligibility requirements for affected teachers, police and other public workers in order to keep funds serving 1.7 million Ohioans solvent. July 30, 2012.
  • House to consider pension reform after report urges action for financial stability. Ohio Senate passed set of reforms in May, but House Speaker wanted to wait until results of the report before considering the changes. With report in hand, the House will take action on pension reform this summer. July 10, 2012.
  • House to consider pension reform after report urges action for financial stability. Ohio Senate passed set of reforms in May, but House Speaker wanted to wait until results of the report before considering the changes. With report in hand, the House will take action on pension reform this summer. July 10, 2012.
  • Pension reform looms for 1.7 million Ohio members. May 14, 2012.
  • State lawmakers ready to consider reforms for the five public employee retirement systems. April 26, 2012.
  • Deferred interest slashed.Starting this month, the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund is paying 2.23% interest on accounts in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP. April 23, 2012.
  • Pension Investments Stalling, Taxpayers Losing Ground.Buckeye Institute.April 20, 2012.



  • A constitutional amendment advocated by state Rep. Randy McDaniel aims to enshrine in fundamental state law firm protections of sound principles of financial management, including a ban on "raids" of pension plan assets for any use other than retirement benefits, a requirement that all pension plan investments be diversified and professionally managed to limit risk, a mandate that actuarially required contributions (ARCs) be made for all government pension funds each year, and a mandate for legislative actuarial investigations before any future benefit March 3, 2012.



  • Principles for public pension August 30, 2012
  • The current payment schedule to meet pension debts requires increasing contributions from taxpayers at both the state and local level from less than $2 billion this year to more than $6 billion five years from now - rising to an annual obligation of more than $8 billion 15 years from now. August 14, 2012.
  • Annual pension payments on benefits for public schoolteachers and state employees grew by more than $500 million this year. They're scheduled to increase by another $700 million next year, which will easily eclipse the $300 million projected surplus. If the state does nothing to adjust the cost of its $30 billion-and-growing unfunded liability on that benefits system, the annual price tag will be more than 10 percent of the state's budget as Mr. Corbett potentially seeks re-election in 2014. 8, 2012.
  • Senate Republicans propose 401(k) instead of guaranteed pension to affect employees hired on or after December 1, 2012. May 29, 2012.
  • Governor looks at 401(K)- plan to curb pension crisis. Pennsylvania Independent. May 3, 2012.

Rhode Island

  • Federal Judge Oks Central Falls bankruptcy, allowing the residents to remain in receivership after its bankruptcy. September 7, 2012. The approval of the court drives home the message to public sector pensioners that if they don't agree to renegotiate retirement benefits, they could face steeper cuts if their city goes bankrupt. In Central Falls, the city's retirees had their pensions cut by 55%, receiving an average of $16,626 per year. September 3, 2012.
  • Unions file 3 lawsuits to challenge RI pension reform. June 22, 2012.
  • State takes over finances of Woonsocket by appointing budget commission; City faces a $10 million deficit and is quickly running out of cash. May 30, 2012.
  • State Treasurer opposes Governor's move to cut $2.6 in March 21, 2012.
  • Governor Chafee announced a legislative package on March 15 to help cities and towns take control of their finances. One of the seven bills addresses local pension plans, allowing cities and towns to halt cost-of-living increases if the plan is less than 60% funded. Proposed changes include reduced disability pensions and limiting local pension benefits to the level of those in state-managed local plans. March 15, 2012.

South Carolina 

  • Pension fund is down $1 billion in the last year. The 0.6% return is well below the goal of the fund. August 24, 2012.
  • Governor signs pension reform requiring state employees to contribute more to their pension plans and requiring 30 years of service to receive pensions. It also eliminates Teachers and Employee Retention Incentive Program. July 25, 2012.
  • Legislature approves compromise on pension reform. Both House and Senate versions already exempted current workers from changes in benefit calculations, applying only to those hired after June 30, and allowed current employees to retire with full benefits after 28 years of work. Only new employees would be barred from factoring up to 45 days of unused vacation and 90 accrued sick days into their benefit calculations. For new hires, benefits will be based on employees' final five years of pay, rather than the current three-year average. Under the approved compromise, new employees must meet a so-called "rule of 90" to earn full benefits, meaning that the worker's age and years of service must equal 90 at the time of retirement. Employees' contributions would increase by 1.5 percentage points over three years, from 6.5 percent to 8 percent of their salaries, with the first step taking effect July 1. June 21, 2012.
  • State invests in High-Octane Investments. South Carolina ended up paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fees - $344 million last year alone - to hedge fund managers and private equity dealmakers. In return, the pension fund has a higher share riding on private-equity and hedge-fund plays than almost any other state's: $13 billion, or more than half its total. June 9, 2012.
  • House amends its pension reform plan to allow current government employees to continue factoring unused vacation and sick days into their retirement plans. May 30, 2012.
  • South Carolina's current public employees will see little change in their pension benefits under a plan sent Thursday to the Senate floor. May 4, 2012.
  • Retirement system's deficit grows $1.4 billion to $14.4 April 15, 2012.
  • Law hides pension records as taxpayers' contributions to the system ballooned over the past decade. March 4, 2012.


  • Texas Teachers Retirement System said moving away from traditional defined-benefit plan won't shrink unfunded liabilities. The fifth-largest U.S. public pension by assets positioned that the change would widen a $24 billion gap between promised benefits and projected assets to $36 billion. September 4, 2012.


  • State pension investment cuts growth. August 23, 2012.
  • General Assembly approved governor's amendments to pension reform bills. April 18, 2012.
  • Governor allows localities to spread costs of pension changes over five April 10, 2012.


  • Senate passes SB 6378 requiring all new employees as of July 1, 2012 enroll in the state's newest retirement plan. The Senate also delayed funding $130 million to a pension plan closed to new enrollment in March 3, 2012.

West Virginia

  • In addition to 7.5% cuts, all state agencies must shift funds to cover increase in employers' share of pensions after pensions failed to grow 7.5% annually during the 2011-12 FY. Earnings were between 0-2%, according to Budget Office Director Mike McKown. August 7, 2012


  • Walker victory a ‘tipping point' in public sector union pension reform. Human Events. June 5, 2012.