Thursday, February 9, 2023

PERS COLA Bubbles up to $850 Million

Even discussing the "thirteenth check" is political suicide in Mississippi.  Unfortunately for the ostriches, the PERS COLA rose to a record $850 million in 2022.   

The so-called annual cost of living adjustment doubled in only ten years.  The COLA is on track to reach $1 billion - yes, $1 billion - in 2025.   Past increases indicate the amount of the COLA increases will likely accelerate.  Notice a pattern: 

Posted below are the annual COLA payments stated in the annual comprehensive financial reports. The annual increase in COLA payments is stated in parenthesis. Notice a pattern in the annual increases? 

2022: $849,803,000 ($50 million)
2021: $800,170,000 ($48.5 million)
2020: $751,646,000 ($51.7 million)
2019: $699,947,000 ($50 million)
2018: $650,465,578 ($47 million)
2017: $603,318,841 ($43 million)
2016: $559,888,063 ($43 million)
2015: $517,283,072 ($41 million)
2014: $476,401,043 ($38 million)
2013: $437,808,691 ($36 million)
2012: $402,514,750 ($33 million)
2011: $368,645,000 ($30 million)
2010: $338,628,000 ($25 million)
2009: $312,471,000 ($31 million)
2008: $281,124,000 ($25 million)
2007: $255,939,000 ($23 million)
2006: $232,710,000 ($22 million)
2005: $211,530,000

The COLA increases every year because it is not a traditional cost of living adjustment based on inflation but is instead a guaranteed increase in benefits compounded annually.  PERS will pay COLA benefits even if the economy enters a period of deflation. 

The PERS Retiree handbook explains:

PERS retirees and beneficiaries who have been receiving benefit payments for at least one full fiscal year are eligible to receive an annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA). If you retired effective July 1, you would be eligible for the COLA during the fiscal year beginning 12 months later on July 1. If you retired effective August 1, you would be eligible for the COLA during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 23 months after the effective date of retirement.
The COLA is equal to 3 percent of your annual base benefit for each full fiscal year of retirement prior to the year in which you reach age 55 (Retirement Tiers 1 through 3, see table below) or 60 (Retirement Tier 4), plus 3 percent compounded for each fiscal year thereafter, beginning with the fiscal year in which you turn age 55 (Retirement Tiers 1 through 3) or 60 (Retirement Tier 4). (See the Appendix for simple and compounded COLA interest rates for years in retirement.)

Unfortunately for retirees, the annual COLA makes up a rather large chunk of the $1.4 billion deficit between contributions and benefits payments.  144,416 active members support 114,462 retirees.  The retiree population increased by a third in the last decade while the active member population decreased.  As the "COLA" increases, there are fewer employees to support the growing payroll. 

Kingfish note: JJ is pondering a policy change on PERS nomenclature.  The term "COLA" is misleading since the adjustment is not based on inflation.  The acronym of "PAIN" is more accurate: PERS Automatic Increase. 


Anonymous said...

Will the last one in the room please turn off the lights-

Anonymous said...

I've always been a PEPSI man myself.

Anonymous said...

That is a lot of money for a lot of people who did virtually nothing for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I empathize for the state workers that work for 60% of the market pay. They faithfully did their time with the expectation of a promise.

That so many of them jump the wall at 25 years to get a real job that pays enough for them to live while drawing retirement is where I quit empathizing for them.

Anonymous said...

If it looks like a Ponzi scheme and ...

Anonymous said...

Watching the retirees be forced to take a haircut will be so sweet because if anybody is complicit in this mess it's the retirees who never demanded a reform of the program to insure its long-term sustainability.

Anonymous said...

I've said it 20 times on this site. The 13th check benefit was not suppose to be done this way. It should have been plowed back into the fund to help fund it, not taken out as an extra check. Most of the retirees will tell you the 13th check is 2 months of pay in many cases. Every fund uses the interest earned to help fund it. If you only use 10% of it to pay for increases fine but you can see how underfunded this has become because the money is not put back into the program. In the Fall the state agencies and cities will have to put 22% of pay in with their new requirements.

You cant keep ignoring this.

Anonymous said...

I empathize as well. For whatever reason (shrinking gov’t, underfunding, the market, etc etc) the current funding and benefits system is not sustainable. The longer it takes to at least stem the tide of unsustainable system only compounds the problem (see what i did there). I believe this is why the KF has continued to put the issue front and center for a several years or more.

Otherwise PERS is simply the Jackson infrastructure fiasco on steroids.

Anonymous said...

Don’t care as long as I get my fat SLRP!

-part time State Legislator

Anonymous said...

(1) YAWN

(2) Sadly (for him anyway) it's not up to the almighty Kingfisher to define a damned thing. Whether well-conceived or not, it's a term established under law and blog owners and other make-believe correspondents can pass gas in the elevator all day long while thinking they can impact change.

(3) Next

Anonymous said...

10:44 and repeat yourself.

Anonymous said...

Is it not mandated by State law the taxpayer will be responsible for PERS deficits?

Anonymous said...

It seems that the Legislature is more interested in re-election than fixing our state’s problems. There are many people sitting at home now because they had the courage to take this own.

Anonymous said...

Pepsi is for Yankees.

Anonymous said...

Problem is I would get a "real job" but what happens the state locks you in after you work there for so long and you can't do anything with that money and you have to start over somewhere else. Defined pentions are garbage.

Anonymous said...

And Senator David Blount says to vote for him, that he'll protect the dignity of state workers and retirees.....but with no plan to plug the $850 million hole, lolololololololol

Anonymous said...

You can take the 13th check OR get it next year.

If you really want to get pissed off look that how the DPS employees especially the troopers pers is doled out.

Anonymous said...

@10:46am - Your post makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

It is time to make Mississippi a state governed by a regional federal board because the house and senate and the governor cannot and have not gotten it right over the past 10 years. Public corruption has increased over 300% and citizens of the state have been in poverty since reconstruction.

Anonymous said...

As a current retiree, I am begging that someone will have the courage to make reasonable changes NOW. If not, at sometime in the future drastic changes will have to be made. The State has been cutting jobs over recent years, which in turn reduces the number of employees paying into the system. Why not use some of the budget surplus to stabilize PERS, in return for changes in the COLA for future retirees, if that would help stabilize PERS.
I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I would rather have changes made to the COLA for current retirees now, than have benefits drastically cut in the future.

Anonymous said...

The Fish will not allow any post that butts-heads with his continual, incessant, booze-laced, anal-itch narrative.

Anonymous said...

10:46 AM, hey don't hate the player, hate the game.

Anonymous said...

13th check was a very stupid thing to do and the it will break the system.

Kingfish said...

Not necessarily a thirteenth check. The retiree elects to receive the PAIN in a lump sum annual payment or a monthly payment. Most go for the extra check.

Anonymous said...

“ citizens of the state have been in poverty since reconstruction”, and the reason for this is Mississippi is the whipping boy for the rest of the nation.

Anonymous said...

So who has the power to fix this?

Republicans who control the entire government.

Who is not fixing this?

Republicans in charge of entire government.

Now…I cannot wait to hear how the system is old and broken and dilapidated….all these problems came before we took absolute power decades ago… can we fix it now? Noooo….nothing we can do.

Anonymous said...

Why not stop sending state employees to Jackson for training meetings (paying mileage, hotels and meal costs, etc.) when they can do Zoom calls? Take the money saved by each department and send it to PERS. It won't fix the problem, but it will send a lot of money to PERS funding. Employees may hate zoom meetings but their retirement funding would get the benefit.

I have a friend on the coast who has to come to Jackson every quarter for training. What a waste of money!

Anonymous said...

That's right, point fingers at someone that'll fix it.

Madison county said...

Attn 3”55 PM . You chose to be on the “Public payroll” for your whole “career”, whatever in your mind that was. I know it is late, but why not try to find a real job, and maybe you can develop some self esteem.

Anonymous said...

As a double state retiree home I vote to reduce the cola or whatever to make the system solvent. And I hope the legislature will look at there retirement honey pot for what it is.

MBrookes said...

To 7:07 and anyone who agrees with him. I would like to see each of you teach in a middle school. It is hard work teaching any age, even without discipline problems. If you think it is a job doing nothing, imagine Jackson without public schools.

Anonymous said...

as a state retiree, I say y'all can go pound sand. I did my 30 years and lived up to my end of the bargain. Boo hoo.

Anonymous said...

If some of you were to review a total list of all the jobs in this state that are covered by the PERS system, you would not be so quick to continue spouting your 'get a real job' bullshit.

If Kingfish were a fair man and actually wanted to do a service in this discussion, he would publish that list.

But, alas, it's more fun to stir the shit pot every couple of months, then sit back and grin.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the attitude of retired folks in PERS like 9:57 is that they got suckered by a Ponzi scheme. It’s exactly like Social Security, except on steroids. Let’s just change the 13th check to a more extreme scenario. Let’s say you willingly accept making $1 per hour for 30 years, in exchange for which, your retirement will consist of $1,000,000 per year for the rest of your life. Does anyone think such a system would be financially stable?

Now just start adjusting that $1 per hour up and the theoretical retirement check down until you get to a point where you think the math works. The math does not work with the current system, no matter how much you want it to.

The only reasonable solution here is to greatly reduce that COLA down to where the math works. Taxpayers don’t owe retired public employees a nice comfortable 40 year retirement while we work till we fall over dead or get too decrepit to continue. I’m sorry the legislature passed the law years ago to set up a Ponzi scheme, but y’all need to be adults and agree to make the system financially stable. Raiding the state surplus is not a responsible answer.

Anonymous said...

At this point, PERS is a slow-motion trainwreck in real time.

Even with Mississippi's $4 billion surplus (supposedly) from ARPA bailout funds, etc., Mississippi has so many massive financial needs that have been neglected for decades that the honey pot for retirees will eventually get raided before there's nothing left.

The "raiding" that will take place will be by the legislature to plug holes once they know it's dying with no hope of preserving, and raided by a run from retirees who'd rather get the cash they paid in than nothing at all. Jesus, how can so many not really, truly see this?

Anonymous said...

7:18, not sure either the state nor the retirees can raid the fund. But nice story.

Anonymous said...

@9:57pm, you must have been a career state employee, since you obviously can’t do math.

Anonymous said...

@5:23 - The 'math worked' 40 years ago before governors allowed agency heads to slice headcounts and rely on contract workers who don't contribute a dime to the system.

The 'math worked' (I assume) at a point in time when investments were wise and floated the system, responsibly.

The 'math worked' when contributing employees existed in such numbers that, when matched with employer contributions, worked out well.

The 'math worked' before the legislature created SLRP and thought it wise to mis-define C.O.L.A.

The 'math worked' prior to allowing career employees to retire with 25 years.

The 'math worked' prior to the landslide of favorite-sons being allowed to gain 4-high and retire.

Seems easy enough for top-water analysts to be pissed off at multiple thousands of hard-working employees up and down and across this state in every public sector job you can imagine and ridicule them for being trapped in a broken system. That anger is misplaced.

Anonymous said...

I asked a freshly elected Representative when they would start to address PERS. His response: "You'll never see major changes in an election year." I told him every year is an election year.

That was 15 years ago.

Anonymous said...

@ "The 'math worked' prior to allowing career employees to retire with 25 years."

You might want to check your history and dates on that one.

And to the "double state retiree," you're part of the problem. One PERS retirement per person is plenty.

Anonymous said...

The Ugly Truth
During the observation period from 1960 to 2021, the average inflation rate was 3.8% per year. Overall, the price increase was 829.57%. An item that cost 100 dollars in 1960 costs 929.57 dollars at the beginning of 2022.

Anonymous said...

Many problems with the State Retirement System but the COLA is not it. In the early 2000’s they started cutting PINS from agencies so the agencies hired contractors who don’t pay in. High 4 is a crock of shit. People who were removed from high paying jobs due to incompetence would go drive a lawn mower for some government until they got their years in then retire on top 4. The legislature will not do anything until it reaches a crisis then they will pull their Underdog imitation and try and fix it. Taint was the biggest proponent. If they would have had a plan to keep funding PERS after positions were cut we wouldn’t be where we are but that would be Proactive and Jackson doesn’t work that way

Anonymous said...

10:18...the date of that policy change is irrelevant. And the HISTORY is what it is. What it lead to was hundreds of employees opting to retire immediately or the next June 30 and start their COLA calculation as soon as that policy was effective. Imagine two thousand employees retiring with 25, at full retirement, as opposed to them all waiting five more years to start receiving benefits.

I think the date of the 25 year full retirement policy was circa '82. Could be off a few years, but that's irrelevant when balanced against the impact of that dumbass decision.

Anonymous said...

February 9, 2023 at 5:00 PM, ill-informed and greedy voters are exactly where Democrats have the undeniable advantage over Republicans. Democrats create these disasters. But the ill-informed + the greedy voters would destroy Republicans for fixing it.

It’s the big joke - like the old saying about this government will not last because the citizens have realized they can vote themselves currency from the treasury.

February 9, 2023 at 12:55 PM, don’t worry, “the almighty Kingfisher (isn’t trying) to define a damned thing.” He’s just interested keeping the clicks coming and censoring any posts that might keep this from happening.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:18 - Feel free to check me and correct the statement. Employees should never have been allowed 25-year full retirement which was indeed possible back during the 80s.

You might also want to know that it's impossible to draw double PERS retirements unless one is considering the SLRP legislative debacle, and that's still NOT a double state retirement.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible for one to draw a military, federal and state retirement simultaneously. Take, for example, the future status of Senator Wicker if he can check all the boxes.

Anonymous said...

I love the way PERS retirees who don’t even pay Mississippi state income taxes on their pensions and 13th check think they have the right to tell taxpayers how much they deserve and how much more taxpayers should pay and how much longer taxpayers should work to finance their lives of leisure after 25 years of government service. It’s the height of hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Many of you make me sick. I was a teacher for 38 years. I taught in schools without air conditioning, some years there was no paper for tests, chalk, or even books. Teachers, along with other underpaid state employees, worked without raises for years because 99% of all teachers loved what they were doing. We taught your children, who you could not or would not control and discipline. For instance, one of the most difficult students I’ve ever taught just earned his Doctorate of Philosophy, against all odds, because some teachers, myself included, encouraged and believed in him.
For some of you to say we didn’t work hard, and do not deserve our retirement, shows your ignorance and stupidity.
The bottom line is our legislature wants to control PERS. It doesn’t have anything to do with rate hikes, payments, or inflation. It’s another power grab by the almighty Mississippi legislature!

Anonymous said...

PERS faces the same demographic collapse issue the rest of the nation faces. We will soon have more people retired over 65 than we have working under the age of 35. And to be fair we (USA) are in a better position demographically than most of the world. I don’t know the solution but retirees saying too bad and private sector individuals saying screw the government workers are different ends of the same jackass.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish - How do you know what 'most' do, regarding the COLA? It's only a 13th check if the election is made to take the cost-of-living increase in one check rather than in monthly deposits.

The money is the same (for the retiree). The tax difference is not the same. One can decide how much of it will be confiscated in federal taxes when the one-time deposit is chosen. And in so doing, the member sends a form in to the PERS office to chose that amount. If included in the monthly deposits the tax is the same are already elected for monthly income deposits.

There is a difference, as you know, in the hit the system takes by shoveling all the December checks out at one time.

I assume if the system held on to the money and doled it out monthly, the system could or should realize an investment increase by leaving more of the pot alone so it could gain more interest. I'm no accountant, but there are experienced accountants on the PERS Board.

Anonymous said...

"That is a lot of money for a lot of people who did virtually nothing for a long time." February 9, 2023 at 10:44 AM

What a tortured and unhappy life you must lead when you hate your neighbors, those who you sit beside in church and some of your extended family members. Even those you trust with your literal safety day and night.

Let us know your occupation, will ya?

Anonymous said...

"I love the way PERS retirees who don’t even pay Mississippi state income taxes on their pensions and 13th check think they have the right to tell taxpayers how...yada yada yada.

Get a clue, genius; Thanks to a legislative act some years back, in order to attract retirees to Mississippi, NO retired person in this state pays state income tax on retirement money. That represents multiple hundreds of thousands of retirees.

That plan to attract retirees backfired just as the plan to eliminate state income tax for everybody, in an effort to equal Tennessee, Florida and Texas, will backfire like a wet fart in a bathtub.

Anonymous said...

@5:16, er, uh, Tennessee, Florida and Texas economies and tax revenues are all booming while Mississippi’s is not. PERS are the only retirees in Mississippi whose pensions are over 70% funded by the Mississippi taxpayers while they receive exclusion from having to pay Mississippi state income taxes. You obviously don’t understand math or economics.

Anonymous said...

Less than 10 years ago the accountants I supervised at the state were paid around $31k a year.
That’s with a 4 year degree and 4 years experience or a Masters Degree and 2 years of experience.
Add 20% for PERS and it was costing the state around $37k a year plus insurance and other fringe
Yeah. They’ll be set for life when they retire with the state.
Either work in the private sector and make more money
with more volatility or take low paying job with better benefits and more security.
Take your choice.
Oh yeah. Unless they got promoted they didn’t receive a pay raise for almost 10 years
Keep whining bitches

Anonymous said...

what he(@5:23) said.

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