ND Pension Officials Send State Employees Reassuring Memo After Ugly Audit

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Last week the North Dakota Auditor’s office published some ugly pension numbers for the state’s Public Employees Retirement System. According to the audit, NDPERS is only 65% funded while the retirement fund for highway patrol officers is only 70% funded. In a separate audit, the Teachers Fund For Retirement was found to be only 60% funded. All of those numbers represent a decline from previous funding levels.

In what was no doubt intended as a response to the news, NDPERS sent out a memo to state employees in an attempt to reassure them. A SAB reader who happens to be a public employee forwarded me the memo, which you can read below.

The reader who sent me the memo said he fell off his chair when he read the last paragraph in the memo asking for increased legislative appropriations into the funds, and the suggestion that previous increases in pension contributions by the legislature had reversed the fund’s downward trends:

The actions of the Legislature and the Governor in approving SB 2108, as amended, accomplished two of the goals for the systems: 1) the downward trend has been stopped, and 2) the plans have been stabilized. Looking forward to the next session we will still need to address the third goal, putting the plans on a positivetrend to improve their funded status over time. In order to achieve this goal NDPERS is proposing a new bill in
the upcoming legislative session which includes a 2% increase in employee and a 2% increase in employer contributions phased in over 2 years effective for January 2014 and January 2015. NDPERS will have a web video posted on our website by January 1, 2013 that discusses the challenges facing the retirement plan and proposed legislation to face these challenges.

The idea that the legislature’s 2011 actions have stopped the slide in NDPERS is demonstrably not true, as this table from the audit report indicates:

persfunding

The shortfall between the pension’s projected revenues and projected obligations increased by more than 5%. The highway patrol’s shortfall increased by more than 3%.

The fiscal situation of these funds is getting worse, not better, despite increased appropriations form the legislature.

NDPERS Pension Memo

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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