Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The PERS Song Remains the Same

Check out the questionnaire posted below that the Mississippi Retired Public Employees' Association sent to legislative candidates.  The fourth question is particularly interesting.







Kingfish note: More proof that the retirees have their heads stuck in the sand. The reality is PERS is stuck at a funding level of around 60% despite earning 9% on its investments over the last ten years.  The retiree population grows as there are now more than 104,000.  The benefits payments continue to outstrip the contributions to the tune of $1 billion per year. Meanwhile, the unfunded liability reached $16.9 billion this year.   That is the reality of PERS today.

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

When will taxpayers realize they are subsidizing this boondoggle and demand reform?

To hell with state employees, do like the private sector does. You complain that you make less than private sector, well hell, you have the sweetest retirement program ever!

Sick of it.

Anonymous said...

PERS is Madison Timber on steroids-

Anonymous said...

All about spin in order to bludgeon those candidates who differ with maintenance of the flock of status quo PERS ostriches.

Anonymous said...

They missed a question:

5. Do you agree that PERS is a teetering Ponzi scheme? Yes or No?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, who is this association? Its not PERS. I'm in PERS, I never knew there was an association representing participants. Is this just a fly by night group that popped up? How is it funded?

Anonymous said...

I’d like to hear the gubernatorial candidates opinion and plan on this. Tate? Where’s your conservative leadership?

Anonymous said...

If you think the teachers' unions are formidable political group, try all the teachers plus all the law enforcement plus all the judges, defenders, prosecutors and throw every public works employee in the state in the mix. Oh, and all the retired ones also.

This legislature doesn't have the balls nor the brains to fix this. It just needs to end for all new employees going forward so that one day it is eventually behind us. But cutting benefits to 350,000 voters? I don't see it.

Kingfish said...

Why just Tate? Why not the rest of them: RF, JH, RSS, and BW?

Anonymous said...

http://mrpea.org/mrpea-current-officers-board-members/

Google can be your friend or your enemy...use it wisely, young Jedis.

Anonymous said...

If you think the teachers' unions are formidable political group

Formidable? NOPE.

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of hearing about PERS. Can we just (a) end PERS or (b) stop talking about PERS? Whichever one is easier would be great. Thx

Anonymous said...

I love that PERS is called a ponzi scheme despite the fact that just 30-40 years ago, a nice retirement with a corporate pension was the norm.

Maybe the question is why do private employers treat their employees so poorly?

Anonymous said...

Just take a look at Tate's MPACT plan that he put together. Now the Legacy plan. It's short $127 million as of 6/30/18. Taxpayers will be on the hook for the tuition. I thought he was supposed to be a finance guy.

Rod Knox said...

There's no financial problem in the country that can't be fixed with a good tax cut on the top earners. Laffer proved that years ago.

Anonymous said...

10:32 am

State employees have paid largely into this system through their paychecks as well you jackass. Speak for yourself.

I agree PERS is a ticking time bomb that is in need of serious reform, however, working in the private sector vs. the pubic sector doesn't make you better or more deserving of a decent retirement plan to live out your golden years after a lifetime of dedication to your job. The majority of state employees are good, decent, hard working people with families to feed same as you...AND they actually have to have a heart for public service given most are seriously underpaid for the amount of work they do. You know what I am sick of? Pompous know-it-alls like you.

Anonymous said...

I worked for a major Mississippi bank. We contributed to a retirement plan and now we are receiving the benefits as well as an annual accounting. Being a non government entity, they were and are required send annual accounting updates. This plan as I am sure others is OVERFUNDED, but they do not feel compelled to issue unsupportable 13th checks.

Anonymous said...

Just take a look at Tate's MPACT plan that he put together.

The MPACT contract rates were implemented before Reeves was Treasurer. He didn't reform the program but he also didn't create the problem. Try again.

Anonymous said...

$16.9 billion in unfunded liabilities? Only a fool would believe that the state tax base has sufficient capacity to shoulder that burden. The legislature would have to pass full blown confiscatory tax increases to cover that shortfall. There will be PERS haircuts. Just a matter of when and how drastic.

Anonymous said...

Two illustrations of risk:

1. A giant asteroid may crash into the earth someday and kill millions of people. There are astrophysicists who build complex models that measure the speed and mass of these asteroids, their paths relative to earth's orbit and other factors to determine the probability of one of them smashing into our planet and killing some or all of us.

2. Your food is stuck under the rail of a train track and a train is approaching you from 1,000 yards away at 60 miles per hour.

The PERS problem is much closer to #2 than #1. MRPEA, most of our state legislators and other government officials act like it is akin to #1, because it allows them to whistle through the grave yard and pretend like the catastrophe is something very unlikely and distant.

And, after all, math is hard, right?

Anonymous said...

Just like modifications to Social Security benefits, nothing will change with PERS benefits until it is too late. No one will reduce benefits, change eligibility, reduce 3% cost of living increases, etc.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to keep two points in mind:

1. Mississippi is a "California Rule" state which means that retirement benefits specified in law cannot be changed for current employees or retirees unless a comparable benefit is given in exchange.

2. The 60% funding level and the "unfunded liabilities" is based on the present value of all future liabilities compared to assets on hand and does not consider future contributions from employees or employers. Saying PERS is in trouble because of this is the same as taking Kroger's $15.6 billion in FY 2017 long term debt, comparing that debt to Kroger's cash of $691 million and declaring Kroger is bankrupt.

Anonymous said...

1:32....one clarification, retirement benefits "earned" specified by law cannot be changed. There have been a lot of retirees enjoying a COLA even though the COLA was not in the law when their benefits were "earned". That CAN be adjusted.

It won't. But it can be.

And that sucks for people down the road who will have to pony up to keep this thing solvent while thousands continue to reap benefits that were not even earned.

Anonymous said...

Look at the demographics. This state will be majority democrat within 20 years. No way this state will cut pensions. We have a higher percentage of people working for government than any other state.

Anonymous said...

Why would our legislators change the pig trough from which they also SLURP.

Anonymous said...

'Teachers Unions', 10:50? Please elaborate. There are no 'teachers unions' in Mississippi. If you'd like to argue the basis of my post, please challenge it.

Anonymous said...

I'm willing to estimate that 90% of the goobs on here voicing opinions about PERS know absolutely nothing about the system, it's policies, origin, trends, formulas or employees. All they do is barf up talking points they read on this blog over the past five years promulgated primarily by Kingfish. I can't prove that, but I do believe it's evident.

So, in that regard..........next?

Kingfish said...

Why don't you go back to bitching about black people shopping in Madison County?

Anonymous said...

11:12 Rewriting history your new passion? Tate didn't create MPACT, he inherited it after the legislature created it under the leadership of State Treasurer Marshall Bennett.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 4.12PM

Just because you are ignorant about a topic doesn't mean everyone else is. I, for one, happen to have done a fair amount of reading and research on the pension topic. If you are under 60 and pay taxes, I suggest you do the same, because this absolutely will affect you. Even if you don't participate in a pension plan, you will almost certainly end up supporting people who do through your tax dollars.

Bone up, my friend:

https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-time-bomb-inside-public-pension-plans/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/the-pension-gamble/

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4166196-pension-crisis-worse-think

https://realinvestmentadvice.com/the-unavoidable-pension-crisis/

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-01-04/stunning-survey-reveals-majority-pensioners-have-no-idea-their-pensions-are

Anonymous said...

A 401-k is for private for profits organizations and 403-b is for a government. Who stated this question knows nothing about retirement programs.The State can not set up a 401-k.So someone does not know their business.

Anonymous said...

One point that those who are NOT state employees fail to realize is the EVERY state employee is REQUIRED to contribute 9% of his/her income to PERS. No option, no debate, no "I'll contribute what I can." How many of you complaining about state employees on this thread are contributing 9% to your retirement plan? And, mind you, I had contributed to another retirement program long before I became an employee of the State of Mississippi. I suggested a piece of legislation permitting an "opt out" possibility for employees joining the State work force after age 50 and no one had time even to read the bill. We all agree that PERS needs help (which is why the employer contribution is going up over 17% this year). The options are, reduce benefits across the board, raise the minimum retirement age (like Social Security has been doing gradually), or allow some people to opt out. Show of hands for all of you who have another plan???

Hermit King said...

I certainly hope that PERS can be kept propped up. As many have said before, the largest employer in the state is the state government. There are hundreds of thousands of employees and retirees depending on that money. If it collapses there will be widespread misery.

Compound all these issues with the fact that Rankin, Madison, Scott, and Leake county schools are filling with the children of illegals who don't pay income taxes or property taxes, and we have a huge problem brewing. The next census is going to shock people. Many estimate 40 million illegals already here with children.

We really need geg the legislature to consider more guaranteed tax revenue sources such as Cannabis to fund these liabilities.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who posts a link to an article on SeekingAlpha has zero credibility on any issue financial.

Anonymous said...

4:04, if MAE ain’t a teachers union, what is it? A duck?

Ann Thames, President MRPEA said...

I guess “Kingfish” didn’t care to share my most recent letter stating that the average state reiree receives a grand total of $23,300 which includes the COLA-the lowest in the nation. The retirement people receive is based on the salary they made while working.


questions for all the commenters:

1)how much money have you personally “ponied up” to fund PERS?
2) if your mortgage is 61% paid and you have until 2042 to pay it off, wouldn’t you believe you are in good shape.
3) why would you want to see the livelihood of many of Mississippi’s aging citizens taken away? Many of the people now drawing retirement will not be alive for many more years, which is never mentioned when there is discussion about the solvency of the system.
4) the legislature just awarded the first pittance of a pay increase to state employees they have allowed in nearly 14 years. Would the private sector so business that way and expect to retain people?

Kingfish said...

Why don't you send it to me since you want it posted so badly?

Oh yes, the mortgage analogy. You don't bother to address some basic facts about PERS:

1. The retiree growth continues to climb as it is over 104,000.
2. The funding level did not improve while the rate of returns beat the assumed ROR, even reaching double digit territory more than once.
3. The deficit between benefits and contributions keeps getting worse and is now over $1 billion.
4. That $75 million spent to shore up PERS this year could have been spent on teacher pay raises and other items.
5. Oh yes, the mortgage analogy. Well, I have my own.

Suppose you quit your job but have $100,000 in the bank. Your monthly house note is $1,500 per month. You can pay that house note with your savings for years without getting a job. However, the day will come when you will be forced to either lose the house or generate some income. The longer you delay getting a job, the easier it is going to be to lose that house.

Blithely stating that a 60% funding level is not really anything to worry about takes the same approach. You refuse to acknowledge there is a problem because PERS can meet its obligations for the near future. If the funding level woes continue, the ratings agencies will come calling and that will be a problem. It will also be a problem if the funding level continues to worsen.

Oh, and it is also conveniently ignored that PERS is the tenth or eleventh worst-funded such system in the country.

Anonymous said...

"One point that those who are NOT state employees fail to realize is the EVERY state employee is REQUIRED to contribute 9% of his/her income to PERS. No option, no debate, no "I'll contribute what I can.""

Sigh..... not true. I worked for UMMC (a state agency) for 17 years. I saw the lousy returns for PERS when I was hired and I opted for the alternative plan, which was a standard, employee-directed, investment plan with multiple options as to where I could invest my money. Returns were pretty decent and I am in the process of transferring the accumulated money to my IRA.

Apparently that option is not available to all state employees, but some of us had it/have it.

If you put up with what they do said...

Anonymous @ 10:32 said...

"To hell with state employees,"

Why stop with State Employees ?

Using this simpleton's logic, let's also get rid of City, County and Federal Employees.
BTW, that includes Law Enforcement, Fire Protection, Military . . . ect.

10:32 would be happy for a day or two, until he/she realized that they were dependent on public employees more than they ever realized.

Yeah, PERS needs to be revamped, along with the State Personnel Board.

Eliminating State Personnel Board "protection' for bad State Employees might have a more immediate (overall) positive effect . . . that a knee jerk reaction to idiotic PERS financial decisions.









Anonymous said...

Eliminate the 13th. Just do it - and tell the old geezers to shut the hell up or they'll slash some more. Government benefits (state and national) are always constitutionally based on "available resources"....and that is what the dumbazzes in the legislature are supposed to be prioritizing. If the state encountered a black swan event, they'd raid that piggy ponzi bank so fast they wouldn't care who it pissed off. Don't think it couldn't happen....

Anonymous said...

@5:46 PM
Sites like SeekingAlpha and ZeroHedge have just as much credibility as the Dr.Zoidbergs on CNNMoney, CNBC, FoxBiz, and Bloomberg. They've scooped the MSM countless times.

Ann Thames, President MRPEA said...

I guess “Kingfish” didn’t care to share my most recent letter stating that the average state reiree receives a grand total of $23,300 which includes the COLA-the lowest in the nation. The retirement people receive is based on the salary they made while working.


questions for all the commenters:

1)how much money have you personally “ponied up” to fund PERS?
2) if your mortgage was 61% paid and you have until 2042 to pay it off, wouldn’t you believe you are in good shape.
3) why would you want to see the livelihood of many of Mississippi’s aging citizens taken away? Many of the people now drawing retirement will not be alive for many more years, which is never mentioned when there is discussion about the solvency of the system.
4) the legislature just awarded the first pittance of a pay increase to state employees they have allowed in nearly 14 years. Would the private sector so business that way and expect to retain people?

Anonymous said...

To 7:47
We have all ponied up to fund PERS. Wheither it is higher property taxes, use fees we all are paying more to fund the employers part. Most people are smart enough to understand that tax payers are footing this bill. Do away with the 13th check, I have said it in past articles 4 or 5 times.

Anonymous said...

So much for the teacher pay raises....wait, they don't want to acknowledge that funding PERS benefits them?

Anonymous said...

7:04 proved my point. They are all dog poop. Do your own financial homework.

Kingfish said...

And of course, Ms. Thames completely ignores my answer to her comment.

Nothing stopping you from sending me the newsletter. Kingfish1935@gmail.com. Have no problems posting it.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:12 - technically UMMC employees are not state employees but work for the school. That's a separate plan from the one for state employees. Both administered by PERS.

@ Kingfish - "More proof that the retirees have their heads stuck in the sand." While I don't disagree with the sentiment, a blank questionnaire doesn't "prove" anything.

Anonymous said...

I'll start with this:

Ann Thames, President MRPEA asked,

"2) if your mortgage was 61% paid and you have until 2042 to pay it off, wouldn’t you believe you are in good shape."

I have no idea what you or any other idiot might believe, but if you think such an analogy is appropriate because you believe that someone in such a position is "in good shape," you need lessons in economics, finance, money management, math, common sense, the real world, etc.

While they _may_ be "in good shape," they may very well be on the verge of bankruptcy or other serious financial problems and the sparse facts you give are meaningless. Let's back-of-the-envelope it. The mortgage has 23 years left, or roughly 76% of the period of amortization, yet 61% of the debt - not the value of the security - has been paid. That last 39%, plus interest accrued (or the loss of the ability of that capital to be otherwise-invested), could be a problem. Assuming a 30 year mortgage, the borrower either didn't need such an amortization or something else is up. If the borrower's reasonable payment ability was such to retire such a debt well short of the amortization period, a longer amort period makes no sense _in most cases_ (granted, there are some rare cases in which that situation might have a reasonable explanation). Generally, it would not be good financial planning or management to amortize a home mortgare loan for a significantly longer period of time the financials suggest. Similarly, if the borrower suddenly had an unexpected windfall so as to be able to retire the debt in a significantly shorter period than the original agreement, and especially in a time of extremely low interest rates, over-servicing a low-interest longterm amort on a mortgage debt would make no sense. Simply put, why would someone pay off a debt with capital that could be much better utilized, or, why wouldn't someone with the ability to do so retire debt with capital that could not be safely/rationally expected to bring a higher ROI than the debt service. In other words, margin is leverage, not capital, and only idiots use it as such.

Bottom line? At best, such a scenario suggests real financial mismanagement, incompetence or ignorance. You know...just like the financials at PERS.

Anonymous said...

And I'll address the remaining 3 points by Ann Thames, President MRPEA when she wrote:

"1)how much money have you personally “ponied up” to fund PERS?"

At best, non sequitur. Many more people didn't invest with Lamar Adams or Bernie Madoff than did invest with them. Either way, both were running Ponzi schemes that eventually collapsed. The amount "ponied up" by any particular individual, or even all the individuals who have "ponied up" does not make a pension system work or not work.


"3) why would you want to see the livelihood of many of Mississippi’s aging citizens taken away? Many of the people now drawing retirement will not be alive for many more years, which is never mentioned when there is discussion about the solvency of the system."

I doubt anybody (or at least no reasonable person) wants to see any honest livelihood taken away from anyone, be it PERS benefits or salary. But I also doubt that many want to see their finances negatively affected so that those people's "livelihood" isn't decreased to an amount commensurate with the ability of whatever source of that "livelihood" can afford to pay. In other words, no one is suggesting that current retirees be cut off (and it wouldn't be legal anyway), only that PERS reduce payments to a level commensurate with its ability to meet its obligations for as long as it has them.

As to current recipients dying off, I think you have shown, without intending to do so, one of the major factors in the whole mess: current recipients don't really give a shit about PERS or future recipients, they just want the maximum they can get for themselves. If PERS were a properly-managed pension system, numerous actuarial calculations, including life expectancy calculations, would be taken into account, so the fact that current recipients will die long before future recipients is part and parcel of a proper pensioning system. Put another way, your comments are just another demonstration that you do not have the slightest idea of how a properly-managed pension system must operate, but you damned sure want it to pay you and your members based on your own wants, screw the consequences for anyone else.

"4) the legislature just awarded the first pittance of a pay increase to state employees they have allowed in nearly 14 years. Would the private sector so business that way and expect to retain people?"

Yes, because the "private sector" does so every day and all sorts of business areas. All one need do is look at any of the myriad of current-dollar wage progression charts to get at least a general idea of that fact. However, most private sector businesses that had pension systems that were unsustainable did away or are doing away with them and in many cases, the recipients took a lesser amount because there was no other choice.

How about this, if you think PERS is such a wonderful thing in its current status, let's keep PERS as it is, but require every contributor and recipient to sign a "other source of funds" claims waiver that "self-contains" PERS, i.e., PERS sinks or swims on its own. If it is wildly successful, its riches go only to contributing recipients. If the shit hits the fan, you and other recipients get what PERS can afford from its "self-contained" money - no taxpayer funds or any other funds. Are you willing to give up any claim to funding from other sources, i.e., those who do not contribute to PERS but cannot receive anything from PERS?

Anonymous said...

8:55, I'd gladly sign up for that AFTER the state funds it at the level it promised to. You can't half fund it and expect anybody to sign off on letting it stand on its own going forward.

Sorry, you ARE on the hook for it as a tax payer thanks to your elected leaders not fixing it years ago. Actually they broke it when the added the COLA.

Answering The Mighty Kingfish said...

"Why don't you go back to bitching about black people shopping in Madison County? April 9, 2019 at 4:22 PM"

I musta touched a nerve. Everybody paying attention knows full well that PERS would be a non-issue without the repetitive barfing of Kingfish.

But, as to your question, the reason I don't go back to bitching about black people shopping in Madison County is because I, like everybody else in MadCo, have no problem with black people shopping in Madison County.

It's not my fault you can't differentiate between black people shopping and black people venturing up here simply to commit crimes. Come to shop, fine. Come to rob, steal and shoot, not fine. Print that!

Kingfish said...

You've never bitched about people from Jackson and Hinds County shopping in Madison County? Never said you wished they would stay out of Madison County?

Really? You sure about that, padnah?

Anonymous said...

1009, you can continue to live in your dark hole and think Noone cares,about PERSONAL if KF would quit bit ching about it - but you would be just as wrong on that as you are on so many other issues.

Lots of taxpayers in the state care about this ridiculous defined benefit program that continues to drain resources from the state, and lical, budgets needed for other services.

PERS is probably the single worse factor affecting rural hospitals in thecstate. School districts having to cope with the increased contribution are suffering as well. The fact that retirees like you don't like the rest of us from arguing for a change in the ridiculous benefits conferred by this program doesn't mean we don't exist.

1) defined benefit programs are as outdated as the buggy whip manufacturers, and only exist in the public sector
2) an automatic 3% COLA, compounded annually has no basis in reality, and isn't an entitlement that can't be changed
3) using a 'high four' calculation for benefits is nothing but a,way to pay off politial allies (check Jim Hood's) payroll for example and proof)
4) retirement, and rehire under contract have no place in a legitimate retirement program, but is commonplace in PERS.

Yes, many folks care, and are not dependent or reliant on KF stoking our anger

Rod Knox said...

The elimination of the 13th check to retirees in Tupelo was a significant factor in the city electing a Democrat as mayor. It might amaze people what a few cops and firemen can do in their spare time when they're retired.

Anonymous said...

90% of elected officials are too stupid to fix the PERS problem. The other 10% is too cowardly. It will not get fixed until it falls apart and your so called "leaders" can no longer look the other way.

Anonymous said...

11:02 - You sound really angry. Not only ignorant, but angry. Take a Xanax and a little prune juice and go sit out back.

Anonymous said...

11:02...nobody under 70 types or reads anything that long. For better or for worse.

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