Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today signed into law a bill that could allow the state to issue $500 million in bonds to shore up the public employee pension system.
The measure also provides a 13th monthly check for a group of about 15,000 elderly retirees under the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.
"This bill represents a major step in getting our very important KPERS fund back in actuarially sound condition, and also makes sure that that very important 13th check gets out to retirees who are counting on it," Sebelius said.
Under the new law, the state would be able to issue $500 million in bonds to reduce the gap between assets and benefit obligations in KPERS.
Supporters of the measure said the bonds are needed to keep KPERS sound. KPERS could borrow the money at a low interest rate and invest it to yield a higher rate on dividends, they say.
But during the recently completed legislative session, a handful of lawmakers opposed the deal, questioning what would happen if the investments went sour.
The 10-year average investment performance for KPERS is 8.1 percent, but the average of the past three years has been a negative 4.5 percent. Last year, the system's portfolio was down 6.9 percent, reducing its assets from $9.1 billion to $8.2 billion.