PERS Commission Makes Recommendations

By: Mike McDaniel Email
By: Mike McDaniel Email

The fate of the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System, or PERS, is now laid out in a 40-page report. And in it are recommendations of change to a system Gov. Haley Barbour says is under funded by $12 billion.

"If we didn't use any money for anything in state government, it would take us two and half years to get PERS to the funding level that is recommended," said Barbour.

To help get the system on better footing, part of the recommendations include freezing the three percent increase retirees currently receive every year for three years. Any new retirees would also be subject to the three-year hold out.

Recommendations also include adjustments to when retirements may be drawn, as well as calling into question whether exclusive benefits to lawmakers, known as SLRP should keep being paid.

"The system is going in the wrong direction," said Barbour.

Barbour formed a commission back in August, after having concerns over the system's ability to sustain itself long-term.

The governor says the system pays out more benefits than it's structurally set up for, so the group was charged with examining the system's financial, management and investment structures.

Led by Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel, the commission's proposed changes are a way to avoid long-term problems.

"For every dollar that we have promised to pay out, we only have 62 and a half cents to make that payment," said Schloegel.

Schloegel says the main reason for the system's financial state is because of the legislature's decision a few years ago to increase benefits without paying for them.

Through several public hearings and many concerns over reduced benefits Schloegel says the recommendations need to be highly considered and were made with taxpayers in mind.

"We're very, very cognizant of their concerns for any changes and we've been attentive to those concerns," Schloegel said.

With about 80,000 retirees cashing in on the system and about 167,000 active members, Barbour says preserving it for future generations is a responsibility on state government.

"The employees and the retirees deserve it the most, because they're the people who are basing their future assumptions that this money is going to be there," Barbour said.

The commission itself can only make recommendations to the system. Any changes would have to be approved by the new legislature, which convenes in January.

Click the link below to read the PERS Commission's Report.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by future retiree Location: ellisville on Jan 18, 2012 at 09:05 PM
    I would be in agreement with a solid cap on the 13th check of around 30,000. the average state retiree would reach this in 25 years, whereas the higher paid people would get it in 5 years. I think it only fair that the lower salry people have the chance to increse and those that were making large anual salry cap in a short length of time.
  • by Jed on Dec 16, 2011 at 04:46 AM
    You can ignore the problem and let the PERS go broke, or be a responsible adult, address the problem, and try to do something about it now. This may cause a little discomfort, but it is better than denying the problem, causing the corrective action to be a lot worse in the future.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 06:13 PM
    Now that you have Republicans controlling both houses, look for Scott Walker type tactics. The only difference is Mississippians are already used to being thrown around. Right to work state, remember. That is the biggest lie, well one of the biggest.
    • reply
      by State Worker on Dec 16, 2011 at 06:55 AM in reply to
      Are you serious? Why in the world would we need a union? It's disgusting that the teachers have one. I'm thankful for the benefits I've got, and if they have to make changes to PERS to keep it healthy for the future then that's fine with me. Nobody is out to screw us over.
  • by Ob Location: Meridian on Dec 15, 2011 at 04:15 PM
    You would be a fool to be a teacher in Mississippi.
  • by what a joke on Dec 15, 2011 at 04:02 PM
    i see them looking at the regular state workers. just how much better the highway patrol retirement is then the regular state worker? they need to look at mhp pers and make changes in that one also.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 06:11 PM in reply to what a joke
      There is no reason MHP should continue to get the top of the trough when everyone else suffers. There is absolutely no reason why the legislature has a retirement system, that they won't even touch. SLRP needs to be abolished.
  • by Terry Location: Indianola on Dec 15, 2011 at 02:14 PM
    So what changes are being recommended for the SLURP program?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 06:12 PM in reply to Terry
      None. The legislature refuses to change its own.
  • by mw Location: Teacher on Dec 15, 2011 at 08:30 AM
    It does seem out of line for a retired teacher to make much more retired than they did teaching. But, having to struggle for 20-25 years to make ends meet, i guess it is justified. If teachers could make the salaries that they just deserve, the retirement wouldnt be so critical. Remember, the lawyers, doctors, and professional people who make the huge salaries, once had a teacher who cared enough to sacrafice to be a teacher who helped them become who they are today.
    • reply
      by Charles Foster Offdensen on Dec 15, 2011 at 03:49 PM in reply to mw
      Doesnt seem odd to me at all. I know elderly people who were bringing home $600 a month, or less, when they retired many years ago. That wont even cover rent these days. Would it be fair to limit their benefits to that amount?
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