Topeka State Senate President Dave Kerr has put the Legislature on notice that the state retirement pension system faces a long-term funding problem that may require an increase in state spending at one of the worst budget times in Kansas history.
In a letter to fellow legislators released Monday, Kerr, R-Hutchinson, sounded the alarm, saying, "We are not closing a gap between the amount of money available for future retirement benefit payments and the amount of funding needed to meet future obligations."
The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System indicates an actuarial liability of $11.74 billion in future payments and actuarial assets of $9.7 billion, he said.
Annual KPERS benefits to 57,097 retirees totals about $590 million. Most public employees are members of KPERS. That includes local, county, school, community college, university and state workers.
In order to reduce the unfunded liability, consultants have recommended the state increase its contributions to the pension plan.
Kerr, chairman of a joint House-Senate committee on pensions, said he agreed with that recommendation, but that it would be difficult to accomplish given the state budget gap facing the 2003 Legislature.
Revenue for the state's $4.4 billion budget may be as much as $800 million short when lawmakers return to session in January.