Monday, December 3, 2018

Mine! Mine! Mine!

The President of the Mississippi Retired Public Employees Association threw down a gauntlet to any legislator even thinking about changing PERS.  President Ann Thames issued the warning in a newsletter recently sent to her members.  Legislators were none too happy after the PERS Board of Trustees voted to raise the employer contribution rate from 15.75% to 17.4% earlier this year.  The rate increase means the state will have to send another $75 million to PERS while local governments will have to chip in another $25 million.  PERS is only 61.8% funded. 

President Thames warned legislators in the Fall 2018 MRPEA Newsletter:

Long time Executive Director of PERS, Pat Robertson retired at the end of June. The new Executive Director is Ray Higgins who came to Mississippi from Georgia. Ray brings a great deal of strong experience to the position. Emily and I along with some other MRPEA members met with Ray and made him aware of our position that PERS benefits and COLA should not be changed in any way. We will continue to attend PERS board meetings and monitor their discussions and continue to meet with Ray regarding our concerns.

Emily and I attended the PERS Legislative Budget Office Hearing last month. The LBO committee only met for one day this year and only chose to hear a handful of agency budget presentations, one of which was PERS. While the committee members were respectful of the fact that Ray is new to the position, it was clear that they are not happy at the request for an increase in the employer contribution. It is also clear that most members of the committee believe that changes to PERS need to be made.

Be aware that next year is an election year for the Legislature and state-wide elected officials. Make a point to talk personally to your legislators and ask them to commit not to make any changes to PERS or the COLA. If your legislators are unwilling to make that commitment, you may want to consider casting your vote differently. Speak to the other candidates as well about PERS so that you will be as well educated as possible when you go to the polls. We have about a year before election day and it is certainly not too soon to be taking a good hard look at the people who represent you and make sure they are looking out for your interests.

We will be surveying all candidates for office regarding their position on PERS and will post the results of those surveys on our Facebook page and our website. Remember, the voting booth is the most effective way to deal with those who are not supporters of PERS

Notice Elle Presidente makes no mention of the employer contribution rate hike.  $100 million bailout? What $100 million bailout?  Those mean ole legislators better not change anything or else they will pay.   Heaven forbid they might have a few questions after the former Executive Director repeatedly assured them the last rate increase (to 15.75%)  would fix everything.   Of course, the $100 million increase in PERS funding is money that won't be spent on schoolbooks for children, police officers to fight crime, or hospitals such as UMMC that serve the poor.  Just shuddup and give Ms. Thames her  money. 

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 in 2018.

However, instead of discussing reality,  Ms. Thames does her best imitation of Daffy Duck.  

Meanwhile, these graphs show the problem facing PERS.


Anonymous said...

"The Guardian" is their newsletter? Self-aggrandize much? Tell me please, what authority does the Mississippi Retired Public Employees Association have other than issuing press releases? It seems like they have about the same authority to determine appropriations as the Civitans or the Red Hat Society. Am I wrong? "Thank you for your input. It will be duly noted and included in the record."

Anonymous said...

PERS is totally out of control. The employer contribution increase (from an already outrageous 15.75% to an even more ridiculous 17.4%) will result in a negative budget impact of almost $500,000 for one local government. That's a half million dollars of limited local tax revenue diverted away from public services, infrastructure improvements, and public safety to throw money at a f@cking Ponzi scheme. Somebody remind the legislators that there are a hell of a lot of voters who think PERS should go f@ck themselves.

Anonymous said...

The State needs to suck it up and honor the promises it made to state employees years ago to entice them to work for wages below that of the private sector for comparable jobs. If the legislature wants to alter PERS for new hires, then fine, do it, but don't be surprised when only the dregs of society apply for state jobs. Now I'll wait for the usual nasty comments from jealous private sector employees who failed or are failing to provide for their own retirement.

Anonymous said...

The Thames never met a public trough where they didn’t feast.

Anonymous said...

So the State (Legislators elected by the taxpayers) made a deal with these people in good faith, they kept up their end of the bargain (took pay at normally below private sector rates,put their time in and contributed whatever the involuntary employee contribution was), and now you're upset that they are trying to protect their interests?

This is the retirees not current employees.

As to the funding level, when you eliminate so many positions, the state should've seen this coming and set aside the funds to offset the losses from the lack of contributions. The money was there, it just got shifted to another project.

At this point its an obligation of the state, not a renegotiation after the fact. If you want to change the deal for new employees that's fine, but that doesn't absolve the state of its current obligations.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that if the current legislature changes this, they are sacrificial lambs.

Anonymous said...

I got mine. Cha ching.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't the people covered by this retirement plan have to pay to fund it? I worked in the private sector and paid for my fair share. Also, the general perception of many state employees is that they are underworked and overpaid. This does not reflect the general perception of those in law enforcement.

Fauxcahontas said...

I'm 1/10,000 native American (not really sure which tribe) and this offends me - I demand that you remove this offensive, racist, nationalistic, white supremacist content! Wait, maybe I'm a member of Elizabeth Warren's tribe...

And for those of you who might not be so swooft...this post is a joke, and not meant to trigger or melt any snowflakes.

Anonymous said...

She is pandering to her base to strengthen her own position rather than caring enough to do her job.

Anonymous said...

All state E'E under age 40 should be asking this woman some hard questions.

Anonymous said...

What constituency does Ms. Thames represent?

Anonymous said...

I’m confused. If there’s a good rate of return and yet PERS remains underfunded...

... then isn’t increasing the contributions a good and responsible idea?

Anonymous said...



Kingfish said...

8:36: Oh goody, goody, goody. That's the spirit! Believe it or not, I want you to have your way. All of it.

Anonymous said...

At this point its an obligation of the state, not a renegotiation after the fact.

A modifiable obligation. Haircuts are probable, not merely possible. You may not be willing to accept that fact but Thames clearly sees the dark clouds on the horizon.

Anonymous said...

The problem is PEERS is a defined pension plan. Private companies have phased these out, but governments still use them. No I am a state employee, we pay a lot into the system, but we have to trust PEERS is going to take care of the system so we can have a retirement. I also contribute to other retirement plans because in the end I have to take care of myself. It sucks though all the money I have put into PEERS might go away. What they should do is start the new employees off with a 403B plan which is 401k for governments and non profits.

Anonymous said...

10:57 - the COLA or "13th Check" is the same amount of money whether the plan participant elects to receive it once a year, or include it in their monthly payment. The issue is how it is calculated, not how it is taken...

Anonymous said...

@ 12:00, If you've been giving money to PEERS, you may have bigger problems than taking care of your retirement - just sayin'

Anonymous said...

How much to the employees pay into the system??

Anonymous said...

The 13th check any way you figure it, either 1 time a year or monthly was never planned into the math in 1999 when it was approved.
Just because people bitch about it doesn't mean we shouldn't change the plan to keep it somewhat solvent. If people employed with the State complain about low pay well there are other alternatives.

intelligent_guy said...

"As to the funding level, when you eliminate so many positions, the state should've seen this coming and set aside the funds to offset the losses from the lack of contributions. The money was there, it just got shifted to another project. "

I am begging here: please, please, oh please, 8.59 AM (and anyone else who buys into this), stop writing - and more importantly, believing - this!

I assume that this concept that reducing employee headcount hurts PERS was conceived by the MRPEA and/or employee unions, but it simply is not true.

I will type slowly, so hopefully you will understand this: IT IS ALL TAX DOLLARS!!! State agencies, school districts, fire departments, law enforcement (i.e. Employers) all pay their employees with tax dollars. The Employers withhold 9% of the employees' pay and put it into PERS, and the Employers also contribute 17.4% of every salary dollar in addition to this.

Let's assume the state (or local) employee makes $50,000/year. Here is what it costs the State:

EE salary 50,000 (4,500 of which goes to PERS)
Federal P/R tax 3,481 (7.65% of 45.5K)
Employer contribution to PERS 8,700 (17.4% of 50K)
Total cost to taxpayers 62,181

So, if the State (or other Employer) eliminated this position, the $62K in total compensation cost could go toward funding the 17.4% Employer contribution for other employees. For example, it would pay for 7 other employees making $50K/year: 50,000 x 7 x 17.4 = 60,900.

So, contrary to the false wisdom of 8.59's post, eliminating employees can actually help PERS, if the state were to actually use the tax dollars saved to fund PERS.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea: there are two hits of unforeseen monies that we are poised to realize. One is the internet sales tax. The other is the lottery money.

Instead of adding them to the general fund or earmarking them, why don't we deposit the funds from one (or both) into a savings account fund with a stable interest rate, and hold them as a buffer in case the PERS funds come up short? That was if PERS comes up short, the money is there to fill it on; if they don't, the funds and interest can be released as they are not needed.

Yes, I know some of that money just went to infrastructure, etc., so just raise the gas tax to cover the infrastructure and switch the funding.

Why would something like this never happen? Because the legislators like to spend every penny they get and not think ahead, and because there is so much demand for them to spend it all now, rather than save it.

Anonymous said...

12:02 is spot on. Its not the 13th check, its how its calculated. And lets ask Ronnie Musgrove and Hob Bryan why they made the calculation like they did in 1999. Hint: It was to get Musgrove elected to higher office......

Anonymous said...

He is doing his job! Good for him. Now the legislature can do theirs. They can honor the request and/or they can cut benefits. But the exec director works for the plan participants and I for one am glad to see he is not one of the wink wink good ole boys just going along to get along.

MS Workers Alliance said...

State employees should unionize and the State Employee Union should be in control of the state pension plan. PERS should be dissolved because as long as the state controls the retirement plan then state employees can never effectively unionize and collectively bargain against the Agency and State Personnel Board.

Join the Mississippi State Employees Alliance

You will never receive fair compensation without collective batgaining.

Anonymous said...

12:51 - fix the second line of your calculation - only 6.2 goes to SSI. The other 1.45 goes to medicare

Anonymous said...

10:57 - please calm down, you’re making us all nervous and upset, there also seem to be several word missing from your post. And be prepared to get really pissed - I get 26 checks every year from the state. I retired from MHP and another state agency! I’ve been double dipping for just about 7 years now and it’s awesome!

Anonymous said...

Wow MS Workers Alliance...that website, hire some 15-year old to redesign it. By the way, have you ever heard Brenda Scott speak in public? It's embarrassing. Not exactly who I want representing me...

Anonymous said...

8:59 I have been paying into PERS for the last 28 years. Your comments are spot on!

MS Employee Workers Alliance said...

@2:47 PM
While your comment seems a but prejudiced, I do want you to understand that Union members elect their leadership so if you join, you can run for a leadership position and show everyone how much better you speak and effectively lead.

As for the website, it is effective and I'm grateful that Union dues are spend representing the needs union members and not creating some flashy website. Remember, state employees will never get a living wage and proper benefits if we just rely on the MSPB or legislature to give us what we deserve.

Anonymous said...

MS Workers Alliance - please explain specifically how 2:47's comment is prejudiced? In every statement I've ever seen her give, Brenda Scott's diction, clarity of delivery, and logical reasoning are awful. Further, your poorly written rebuttal speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

Hey you at 8:36! It’s the damn private sector that generates the economy. What government entity works for profit? Where do you think the money comes from? You think that your department will increase your funding but did you ever think the funding has to come from us?!!!

Anonymous said...

To all Legislators and state "leaders": grow a pair and address this policy debacle instead of bowing to the blue hair brigade. Signed, the Rest of Us

Dump Truck Logic.. said...

As we close out the evening, here's the most stupid-ass post of the thread:

"So, contrary to the false wisdom of 8.59's post, eliminating employees can actually help PERS, if the state were to actually use the tax dollars saved to fund PERS. December 3, 2018 at 12:51 PM"

Or....municipalities could sell off a backhoe or three tandem-axle dump trucks and fold that money into the PERS employer contribution. But, that's not how the law or the system works, is it? 12:51 should run for mayor of Pelahatchie.

With a system based, largely, on the number of people in the system, you won't ever fund it by reducing that number. If that were true, we could totally eliminate all the employees and concentrate only on paying retirees. But, WAIT! Where would we get the money to pay retirees? Oh, right! Sell the dump trucks.

But then what? That money is gone and you have no dump trucks!

Anonymous said...

Hey you at 6:36 pm. State employees pay taxes just like private sector employees - income, sales, property taxes, etc. Thus, state employees generate tax dollars that are used to pay their wages.

State employees contribute a part of their wages toward PERS, just like responsible private sector employees should be doing to fund their retirement.

If your brain is still intact but damaged, UMMC state employees will endeavor to patch it up for you. They even may have to use medical equipment purchased by state tax dollars to take care of people like you.

Anonymous said...

The MS legislators don't have the guts to raise the fees (aka, gasp-TAXES)on the users to maintain the roads and bridges, so there's no way they'll take on 104,000+ likely registered and highly motivated voters in an election year.

Thirteenth Checks Hit In Eleven Days said...

"Mississippi Retired Public Employees Association"

I have never heard of that organization. Is it a secret society?

And no, there's nothing 'racist' about acknowledging that the head of an organization cannot speak effectively, misuses the King's English, has a seventh-grade comprehension of grammar and is a terrible public representative for those she CLAIMS to represent. But, we have no state employee union, in effect, so that's largely irrelevant anyway.

Anonymous said...

How many state jobs have been illeminated in favor of outsourcing the work? And has there been any valid analysis of whether outsourcing is more economical than assigning the work to a state employee? There certainly seems to be cause for concern about the amount of work that has been outsourced, and whether those individuals and companies providing the services have the appropriate amount of oversight by the state.

Anonymous said...


Please allow me to provide you with some common sense. No, State employees DO NOT pay taxes. A portion of their pay is deduced but they are being paid BY taxes from the private sector, so any portion deducted and labeled taxes is just money not being paid out of the monies collected from the private sector.

State employees generate zero tax dollars. Every bit that they "pay" or contribute, in any way, to "taxes" is from actual tax income from the private sector. This is why we have a .gov spending problem today. People can't grasp this simple concept.

State employees pay zero monies into PERS. The private sector paying taxes into the system provides the income paid to the state employee, a portion of which, is paid into PERS.

Care to insult others more, now?

Dump truck logic,

Putting more people into the "system" means creating more state employees, which means that more taxes has to come from the private sector, since ALL of the income and benefits that a state employee receives is based solely on the taxes paid by the private sector.

Anonymous said...

How many people do you know that worked for the "state"? Worked their required number of years to the very point that they get max benefits in retirement, to only leave the state trough and work in the private sector.

Ask yourself why this is the case and why this is NOT a self-sustaining model.

Anonymous said...

8:38, learn to spell; and yes outsourcing is cheaper when it is done in a strategic way. When we outsource tasks that the state workforce either does not have the capacity, capability or desire to complete, the state saves money. Contractors can be held accountable for timelines, cost and quality of work - state employees simply cannot be relied upon to get things done. And, once a project is complete, the contractor goes away, and we don't need to continue find work for them, pay their benefits and contribute to their retirement.

That being said, if the contracting agency doesn't do its homework, or the contractor doesn't deliver, these matters are often tied up in litigation and nobody wins.

Anonymous said...

8:50 a.m. 5:27 a.m. here. Of course state employees pay state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes and every other kind of tax as everyone else. Their tax dollars go to the same places as your tax dollars, duh.

State employees also have a mandatory percentage of their wages deducted from their paychecks by the state to pay for PERS, as plainly explained above by other posters. If you work in the private sector, you probably have a choice whether you want to contribute YOUR dollars to your employer's retirement plan, assuming you have a job of sufficient merit and responsibility to even offer its employees such benefits and the intelligence to save for your retirement.

The state tax dollars also bolster what you call "the economy" Hospitals use tax dollars to buy medical equipment, supplies and pharmaceutical products from the private sector. That helps grow "the economy". Schools use tax dollars to buy/build/maintain buildings, student transportation vehicles, and educational supplies from private businesses. That helps grow "the economy". Prisons which are not privatized use tax dollars to build/maintain prison facilities, purchase food, buy uniforms, and buy weapons for guards from the private sector. That helps grow "the economy". State employers purchase health insurance, auto insurance and workman's compensation coverage from private insurance companies. That helps grow "the economy".

I could cite numerous other examples but I suspect you are too dumb and too resentful of state employees' bargained-for and earned retirement benefits to ever grasp this concept.

Anonymous said...

So I looked over the website and there isn't any financial reporting or indication of specific activities in which the group is engaged. Do you all have a lobbyist, how much are the stewards and officers compensated?
Before I join, I'd like to know how much the dues are and how they will be spent on my behalf. Please make the annual report/ financial statements publicly available and I'll consider joining.

Anonymous said...

10:05am calls others dumb

Sir/Mam, please have someone explain the concept to you.

Let's play extremes. If you started a new State and everyone worked for the state, where would those employees' income come from?

Anonymous said...

8:50 a.m. 5:27 a.m. here. Of course state employees pay state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes and every other kind of tax as everyone else. Their tax dollars go to the same places as your tax dollars, duh.

Their "tax dollars" go to the same place they come from. Therefore they most certainly do not pay towards the state income. The state just pays them less from the tax kitty than what they think they make. It is the ignorant state employee who thinks they are actually contributing to the state's coffers but in reality they are simply being paid less than they think, period.

Anonymous said...

If I have $100 that I made from my job and I had an employee who rented something from me. I pay that employee $100 and they in turn pay me $30 for rent. That employee is not increasing my income by paying me $30 in rent, I am simply only paying them $70 as my employee.

Anonymous said...

10:11 is on to something - is the MS Workers Alliance just a slush fund for Brenda and her buddies? Is Brenda a state employee; and if she is, how much of her state time does she spend on Alliance business? The only thing I ever see her doing is running her mouth on the steps of the capital.

Anonymous said...

The retirement plan is part of the employees pay package. Imagine if you got to retirement only to find out that your employer never put the matching share into your 401k that you were promised and planning on. That would be a criminal act and you would be pissed. The legislature should honor its obligations. Nothing wrong with increasing the employee share again either. Also change the 4 year rule to lifetime contributions or salary numbers.

Anonymous said...

My mama told me to go work for the state. Although the pay's not that great, there's a lot of benefits:

Never pushed or rushed to perform my tasks... ever. No benchmark, expectations or goals I have to meet. Can be "sick' as much as I want. 30 days off every year. Never threatened or worried about losing my job... ever.

In fact, I've learned that folks that have been here a long time like it and have each others back. I hear them chuckling amongst themselves about how nobody can force them to do anything other than the way they want to.

Plus, great retirement when I'm 45!!!


"No, State employees DO NOT pay taxes."

I'm not sure whether the person who posted that is just a simpleton and a troll or someone who completely lacks reasoning ability beyond a fourth grade level.

And to 10:11's quandary: No, there are no stewards or officers. No collective bargaining. No union meetings. No representation during disciplinary conferences. No right of union presence during termination events. No union dues. No annual elections. No union handbook. No grievance procedure. No contract. No contract expiration. No contract renewal or renegotiation at the end of a contract term. No arbitration. No attachment to the NLRB or NLRA........Figure out the rest for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry - last year The House Ways and Means Chairman, Rep Jeff Smith (R) from COLUMBUS, posted of his Facebook page might be time to modify or do away with the 13th Check. With all of the W employees, School teachers, MDOT employees, city and county employees, Jeff quickly took it down. (Must have talked to Nancy Collins)! I can hear Terry down from his grave - dumb ass, dumb ass, dumb ass!
Maybe the mustache wax has "jelled" his brain Jeff and his spats - what in the hell were the people from Lowndes thinking? Probably the same thing the folks in Monroe were thinking when they sent Hob Bryan to the Senate. At least he'll be out of town at least 3 months each year!

Anonymous said...

So what exactly does the Alliance do, and what specific advocacy services do they provide for their state employee members? What does the organization spend its money on? From the website the only benefit is an AT&T discount, but not much else. 5:01 hit it right on the head - isn't a union supposed to represent state employees during disciplinary hearings, etc?

The Alliance shares an address and officers with the Mississippi Unity Caucus, and is Scott the treasurer of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance?

This is looking more and more fishy...

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