Head of retiree group keeping pressure on lawmakers to go above and beyond in funding state employee pensions

01/07/2016 04:29 PM

Retirees in the worst funded individual pension plan in the country want to make sure lawmakers stay on top of funding during the legislative session, and not let the pension plan dip further into peril.

Jim Carroll, a former communications director for the states parks department, who along with his wife, Eva Smith-Carroll, has kept a watchful eye on pension developments over the last several years via their group Kentucky Government Retirees.

Carroll and Kentucky Government Retirees are actively seeking what they’re calling ARC+ — which is essentially the full actuarial required contribution rate, plus additional revenue to stave off dips in the market place.

In an interview with Pure Politics on Thursday, Carroll said that retirees are seeking an additional $250 million a year via a bond issuance over the next two biennium’s for the Kentucky Employees Retirement System non-hazardous pension fund which is 17.7 percent funded, and the State Police Retirement System’s fund which is 31.4 percent funded.

“… (T)hen you can provide a cushion to get us through this trough — so we can come out of the other end of this crisis and be able to withstand any market downturn and see assets increase,” Carroll said, adding that the work in past sessions will ensure viability in the out years as long as action is taken for the short term.

In addition to the additional revenue, lawmakers may need extra dollars to push into the retirement system thanks to lowered investment assumptions.

The Kentucky Retirement Systems investment assumptions have been scaled back by the agency from 7.5 percent to 6.75 percent — a measure lawmakers would need to adopt in the legislative session when tallying the full actuarial required contribution.

The end result of the change in assumptions would mean a decrease in investment income to pay benefits — which means contributions, would have to be increased to offset the difference between benefits, which will stay the same, and a lowered investment.

To meet the additional revenue needs to meet the ARC, Carroll suggest the legislature find the revenue the same way they did several years ago during the KRS pension overhaul — reversing tax breaks to generate $100 million in additional revenue.

The Kentucky Government Retirees group is now engaging nearly 7,000 people via their Facebook page which keeps an eye on the Kentucky Retirement System and government.

Watch the full interview for Carroll’s comments on the call for a full performance audit, and working with Gov. Matt Bevin.


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