Friday, February 23, 2007

Report: Minnesota State Pensions As Much As $4B Short

This Associated Press report paints a gloomy picture of some state public pension funds.

The pension funds for hundreds of thousands of government workers and retirees aren't as fiscally fit as thought and face looming challenges, according to a report from the state legislative auditor.

The state's accounting doesn't reflect a deficit of as much as $4 billion in a fund used to pay benefits to retirees, the report said. It tied the deficit to the practice of boosting benefits for retirees when the funds did well on the market.

"We have a bubble here of people who are nearing retirement age in five to 10 years, and that's when this hits home," said Jody Hauer, project manager for the report.

A union leader and the heads of three big state pension funds said the funds are better off than the picture painted by the report. Government and employee contributions have been stepped up, and the Legislature last year capped future benefit increases at 5 percent for retirees.