Archive for Thursday, September 10, 2009

Parkinson puts major KPERS changes on the table

Gov.: Pension woes may force changes

September 10, 2009, 2:53 p.m. Updated September 11, 2009, 1:01 a.m.


— Gov. Mark Parkinson said Thursday that funding problems for the state pension fund may force changes in its benefit plans.

Parkinson said he’s looking at all options for closing a long-term funding shortfall for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. However, spokeswoman Beth Martino later said he’s not advocating cuts in benefits paid to current retirees.

The fund has said that at the end of 2008, there was an $8.3 billion gap between its projected income and what it would have to pay in benefits over the next 25 years. The retirement fund has assets of about $10 billion.

“The underfunding is so significant, in my view, everything has to be looked at,” Parkinson said after a Statehouse event.

Officials generally have argued that the state legally can’t adjust benefits or change eligibility requirements for current participants, only for people entering the system.

Parkinson said he’s willing to consider changes in eligibility requirements for current participants. He was not more specific.

Martino said: “He is not advocating cutting benefits for current retirees, but he does believe that all other options should be carefully evaluated.”


Jingal 8 years, 6 months ago

So now, after literally decades of neglect in the form of underfunding, the current "leadership" (noun, not verb) in Topeka suggests the state retirement system deficit can be balanced on the backs of the employees, past, current and future. Forget for a moment that had the school system been adequately funded upon entry, or had the actuarially recommended rate ever actually been met (since Ronald Reagan was in office), or had the political hacks that controlled the board prior to 1992 not chosen to use KPERS as their personal piggy-bank, the problems today would be contained and manageable. And of course once the proximate cause for the current panic (recent investment market returns) reverses (life's an average, after all), I'm sure that cooler heads will return the stolen benefits to the workers by returning to pre-raid, below average levels. Right after pigs fly in formation past the Capitol.

Oh, and by the way; once they reduce benefits and/or increase contributions for current employees (as they did for all new entrants recently), it still won't solve the problem. When you have a couple hundred thousand employees, benefits cost a lot of money. Even lousy, reduced benefits. Figure it out.

somebodynew 8 years, 6 months ago

OH, this is just Great !!! (Not) As Jingal points out, it was the legislature who for years raided that fund for special projects and balanced budgets based on not making the mandated contributions to it - so now it is on my back to fix it. BS.

And for all you anti-State workers who thinks the employees just make wonderful money, go the the CapJournal today and read the article about salaries being posted on line. Read some of the comments there from people who routinely b**ch about State employess. Then look at the link and see how little some of these folks really make. It might surprize you. I know it won't change your minds, because some of you don't know how to deal with facts, but it is enlightening.

JoRight 8 years, 6 months ago

You're pretty much spot on somebody.

There are a lot of talented, underpaid employees at the state (not being facetious, completely serious). Part of the reason why they're even here is because of the benefits (vacation, KPERS, health etc). If they start chipping away at these benefits, the state of Kansas will undoubtedly lose a lot of talent. Any idiot can tell you that the most important resources in any business are the people.

I'm hoping Jingal is correct & cooler heads prevail down the road; if not, we'll be sitting here 10 years from now wondering why we have 2 employees doing the job of what was once, a single, talented employee's job.

Kim Murphree 8 years, 6 months ago

don't count on cooler heads...especially when Brownback becomes Governor...the future doesn't look very bright for the working class in Kansas.

firemedic301 8 years, 6 months ago

In the posts mentioned above people are bringing up about the state employees, but this also directly affects most city, township and county employees as well. Just passing the info.

redfred 8 years, 6 months ago

Maybe us KPERS members need to sue the state like the schools did in order to get the legislature to fund the system like they were supposed to.

redfred 8 years, 6 months ago

firemed - you are correct. However, the local government's have contributed their portion to the system while the state government has not.

Steve Jacob 8 years, 6 months ago

I thought this problem was fixed two years ago, when they decided all new hires pay in 6% instead of 4%. Oh well.

chicklet 8 years, 6 months ago

I'm sooo glad I didn't buy that year of service back.

Godot 8 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if Deck and Peppard had a friend named Madoff?

texburgh 8 years, 6 months ago

Ditto, Jingal; Ditto Somebodynew; Ditto JoRight!

Finally a whole gang of posters who understand just what a failure our state infatuation with the right wing of the Republican party has been! And things will only get worse once the electorate puts Brownback and Kobach in office.

By the time they're done, our roads will be like those in Missouri, our schools like those in Louisiana, the disabled will just have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and another 14,000 Kansas children will lose their health insurance. But rest assured, the Koch brothers will do just fine.

skiluvr18 8 years, 6 months ago

Pogo, "You're correct in my view. But what is more correct and in fact amusing is the reality that it is the “working class” that will elect the dope. Who is the dope here? The guy running for office who is going to stiff the regular Joe or Jane or the dimbulb regular Joe and Jane who votes for the idiot????"

You're absolutely right. So its not Obama and Sebelius that are the dopes, its the people who elected them. I'm enlightened now...

threetoedsloth 8 years, 6 months ago

Deck and KPERS only have the funds available that the legislature provides. I don't think the negative returns suffered by KPERS last year were out of bounds - heck, they lost less than most of my funds.

KPERS made some pretty stupid investments in the 80s and 90s prior to Deck, in part b/c the legislature thought the retirement system should have to invest in Kansas companies, a less than briliant move.

Legislators need to be the target of your voices. They're the ones that will/won't be the obligations.

Jingal 8 years, 6 months ago

Let the Deck/Peppard salary thing go. If this issue were as simple as a couple people's income and the fact they apparently make more money than you do, it would be simple to solve.

Governance issues are a function of KPERS' status as a state agency. Although KPERS is legally a trust, held for the exclusive benefit of its members, the legislature meddles in every aspect of its management, staffing, contracting, etc., and also the investments and investment strategy. Those who routinely chew on the hand that can feed you (or beat you) don't last long in Topeka.

This is so even though KPERS funds ALL its own overhead via the trust, including salaries and consulting fees. To suggest that two individuals (one of whom you reference hasn't worked there for a couple of years now, by the way), or a board made up of well intentioned but appointed (2/3rds) or elected (1/3rd) individuals are in control of the fund is, putting it politely, a tad naive.

And Chicklet, buy that year of service - believe it or not, it will still be the best investment for your retirement you'll ever make.

Janet Lowther 8 years, 6 months ago

Who but employees would this present gang of rascals balance the system on?

They long ago decided to underfund the system, and, while they are willing to create new programs left and right, the legislature has consistently refused to fund existing programs adequately, at least 'till they are in crisis.

The state government has been fixated on doing more with less. The time has long since passed where they need to just plain start doing less, 'cause there are very few inefficiencies left to squeeze out of the syst

Jingal 8 years, 6 months ago

Hate to continue to bother you with the facts, but no one employed at KPERS is a political appointee.

And bad news; Warren Buffet earned more than you last year too, which probably also makes him a no-brained egotist, by your analysis.

Do you really think Legislative brilliance is a function of what they were or were not told?

Get out much?

Jingal 8 years, 6 months ago

No employee of KPERS, classified, unclassified or otherwise, is appointed (i.e., receives an appointment to their position), politically or otherwise. All follow the standard-state interview and hiring process.

What goes on at KPERS has no impact on your retirement either. It's called a defined benefit plan because the benefit is defined - in statute. The only folks who can change the statutes are the legislature.

I think, I read, and in my world the sky is blue. Good luck with your own reality, and with your frustrations therein.

Peach out.

kugrad 8 years, 6 months ago

Jingal is correct about the non-political status of KPERS employees, so just drop it already. It is worth noting that the State holds a LARGE amount of money in reserves now, and don't use it to fix problems like this one because they prefer to say, "Our hands are tied by KS Law," which of course they wrote and could easily change. That is one of the underreported stories of the year - Kansas cuts funding to all sorts of programs, while cutting taxes to non-Kansans (yes, we collected taxes from non-kansans through gaming/casinos) all the while sitting on a couple hundred million dollars.

Jingal 8 years, 6 months ago


Don't waste your time. You'll find that facts aren't relevant, only fervor.

Meanwhile, what reserves? I recall there are some budget reserve the state holds as required by statute- is that what you are referring to? How does that work, who controls it and where is the money held?

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