Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Perspective on Retirement and Independent Entities Committee

The Retirement and Independent Entities Committee convened a special meeting to discuss the public employee retirement system. Utah Public Employees’ Association monitored the meeting and testified on behalf of public employees. The committee also listened to testimony from Utah Retirement Systems, the URS actuary, Department of Human Resource Management, The Utah League of City and Towns, CURE, Utah Association of Counties, and various municipal law enforcement groups.

UPEA has taken the position that no one group has enough information to know the affects of changing the retirement system this year. Therefore, it would be prudent to maintain the system until actuarial metrics can provide information to justify a change. Senator Liljenquist concluded that the current $4 billion drop in the retirement fund over the past year will cause the state to lose an additional $300 million per year in investment returns. Chris Conradi, Senior Consultant for the URS actuary, Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Co., said that Liljenquist’s assumption was correct despite potential economic recovery and higher rates of return on investments.

In a worse-case-scenario, URS will not recoup its $4 billion plus $300 million/year loss in time to keep up with demands placed on the retirement system by upcoming retirees.

The Utah League of Cities and Towns presented a package of benefit changes that would preempt a solution to this economy’s worse-case scenario. However, UPEA has spoken with economists and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, who all confirm that the economy is showing signs of recovery. The worse-case-scenario may not play out, but a loss in benefits will harm public employees for years to come. UPEA does not endorse the ULCT’s position on changing the retirement system. For more information, see the list of available documents below.

Please stand behind UPEA in protecting your retirement benefits. Tell your coworkers about UPEA’s position and what’s at stake if employees aren’t unified. Encourage non-members to join.

Audio Recording of Committee Meeting
League of Cities and Towns Proposal

Utah State Retirement Systems Overview

Actuarial Perspective of the Utah State Retirement Systems

Link to the Retirement and Independent Entities Committee Website