Tag Archives: Sam Brownback

Pension News From Around the Country

In California:

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Jerry Brown offered a far-reaching proposal on Thursday to reduce the cost to government of public pension programs, calling for an increase in the retirement age for new employees, higher contributions from workers to their own pensions and the elimination of what he termed abuses that have allowed retirees to inflate their pensions far beyond their annual salaries.

In Kansas:

TOPEKA — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and officials of the state’s public pension system aren’t saying publicly whether they favor issuing bonds to help close a close a long-term funding gap.

In Massachusetts:

The state House of Representatives today unanimously approved a plan to tighten the state’s pension provisions and raise the age that lawmakers and public employees are eligible for retirement. The move follows passage of a similar plan by the Senate earlier this fall. Both plans would only affect future hires, not current employees or retirees.

The House version passed today would boost the retirement age from 55 to 57 and could ultimately save $6.4 billion over 30 years, House lawmakers estimate. The Senate version went farther, raising the minimum age for retirement to 60.

In Mississippi:

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A group charged with studying the long-term viability of the state pension system is expected to release a formal report in two weeks.

During a meeting Monday, study commission chairman George Schloegel said he thinks several changes may be needed to shore up the Public Employees Retirement System.

The Clarion-Ledger reports…lawmakers alone can make changes, and it’s unclear whether they will make any radical alterations.

In North Carolina:

North Carolina is one state that’s planning to use a high-tech solution to look into the future and the present. The state’s Department of State Treasurer announced Thursday, Oct. 27, it will implement customized analytics software to better protect pensions for 850,000 state and local government employees….According to SAS, the customized software suite North Carolina will be using includes risk and performance measurement models for fixed-income equity, private markets and hedge funds.

And, in Rhode Island:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The General Assembly Joint Finance Committees will resume discussion of pension overhaul legislation Tuesday morning with a hearing on parts of the proposal that deal with municipal-run pension plans….Mayors have said they want the ability to make changes similar to what is proposed for state-run plans, such as suspending cost-of-living adjustments.

(here is Emily with more on RI)

Here, again, is Jeff Miron’s estimate of the date at which each state’s debt-to-GDP ratio will exceed 90 percent (the value at which economists believe debt tends to begin to hamper economic growth).

 

Unlike the calculations that the states themselves use, Miron’s calculations use the more-realistic discount rate assumptions of Novy-Marx and Rauh.

(HT to the National Association of State Budget Officers for their extremely helpful “state budget press clips”)

School Funding Formulas Under Fiscal Pressure

With stimulus dollars spent and state reserve funds dry school districts are running out of palatable options for meeting current spending levels in school budgets. Some Kansas school districts are suing the state on the grounds that reduced state funding violates the constitutional obligation to provide “adequate” funding for K-12 public schools.

Such litigation is part of the terrain in American public school policy. There have been twenty Abbott Decisions in New Jersey in order to ensure that students in low-income districts receive a constitutionally-specified “thorough and efficient education.” The court in New Jersey interpreted this to mean that low-income districts must receive sufficient state aid to equalize per-pupil spending with the highest-spending district in the state.

But spending “equity” arguments have not proven successful in many states. School advocates have turned to arguing for “adequacy”. The result is that school districts have grown less dependent on direct financing through property taxes and more dependent on state aid. Fiscal illusion reigns in school budgets. The crisis in state budgets means the aid-dependency of school districts is being tested.

The Kansas state legislature will be at the mercy of the courts which may bind the state to award more money to schools. It’s not a good way to make appropriations or school policy. And it is something that Sen. Sam Brownback may be willing to test in the U.S. Supreme Court.