INTERIM COMMITTEE INFORMED THAT PENSIONS ARE HEALTHY
SAVA met for their second session of the summer and the morning was focused on our Montana pension systems. The leadership of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), Montana Public Employees Retirement System (MPERA) and the Board of Investments (BOI) were all on hand to help inform the committee as to the structure and stability of their respective agencies.
The biggest theme to emerge was that the changes put in place in 2013 are working. Pensions function on a long timeline, and the 2013 changes are slowly but steadily improving our systems – exactly as intended by the coalition from 2013. As new hires enter the pension system and replace prior retirees, we are gradually chipping away at the unfunded liability; according to the head of BOI, we added $6.4 billion to the principal in the last decade alone. Slow and steady wins the race!
Under the terms of the study resolution (HJ 8, 2021), stakeholders have a guaranteed voice in the committee’s work. To that end, groups representing employees, employers, and taxpayers were invited to this meeting to share their thoughts. The message was universal: pensions are strong, stable, and work well for Montana. If you would like to thank the committee for their work and share how important pensions are for you and your family, then please consider writing to the committee.
Check back soon for further SAVA updates; we will continue monitoring their work on pensions closely to protect these critical benefits.
Pension Committee meets for first time
The State Administration and Veteran’s Affair Interim Committee (SAVA) met for the first time today in Helena. The committee, which has oversight of many administrative functions including the pension systems, is composed of eight members split evenly between the parties with six representatives and four senators. In a show of bicameral and bipartisan cooperation, Rep. Wendy McKamey (R) nominated Sen. Janet Ellis (D) for the chair, citing SAVA’s “gracious tradition of switching chairs.” Rep. Marta Bertoglio (R) was elected vice-chair.
One of the most popular bills of the 2021 session was House Joint Resolution 8 (HJ 8) sponsored by Rep. Frank Garner (R). HJ 8 requested that SAVA conduct an in-depth study of all Montana pension systems, with ample stakeholder and public input. The executive directors of TRS and MPERA presented today in front of the committee, citing very high returns on investments and strong financial health for their respective areas. Fingers crossed, the committee will listen to the experts and hear the message loud and clear: our pension systems are strong and stable!
The SAVA committee adjourned today without settling on a final workplan – how many days will they spend examining the pension systems, and which systems will they focus on? Who will they invite to have a seat at the table as they make decisions? What questions will they ask of the experts who they call before them to provide guidance?
While we wait on SAVA to come to a decision on how they will proceed, we can take the first step and remind them just how important pensions are to Montanans. Not only to retirees, but to active public employees – and also to their communities. Pension benefits generate a huge amount of revenue for every community in Montana, and provide a dignified and stable retirement that prevents our retired public servants from needing to take advantage of social services. Take a moment to write the committee about the value of pensions, and check back soon for more SAVA updates.
NEW RESOURCES AVAILABLE
Two new resources are available about pension economics in Montana. Key findings: pension benefits support roughly 10,000 jobs in Montana, and generate $175,000,000 in 1.4 billion in economic output. The return on investment for both taxpayers and pensioners? VERY positive.
Find out more by visiting our FAQ section.
Markets rebound boosts U.S. state pension plans
Markets rebound boosts U.S. state pension plans Markets rebound boosts U.S. state pension plans. Strong rally in equities drives improvement in funding position of retirement schemes.
MT Public Employees: Pensions Help State's Economy
Montana’s public employees are touting the roles they play in communities, even after they retire. According to AARP, retirement checks from more than 23,000 public employees in Montana helped support more than $1 billion in economic output in 2019.
Rep. Moffie Funk, D-Helena, a retired teacher, said the money stays in communities. “The money that we get from our pensions, we put back into our local economies,” Funk explained. “So, it’s great for our state’s economy as well as for our lifestyle.”