Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Retirement Officials says outlook still positive despite market turmoil

State retirement system officials say the long-term outlook is still good, despite the crisis on Wall Street that has reduced the values of state employee retirement investments.

Three of the four retirement systems for state employees report that investment losses and debt payments have caused the average value of their assets to decline.

And one — Louisiana State Police Retirement System — is projecting employers will have to increase their contributions next year to keep the system financially sound.

But retirement system officials, actuaries and state legislators say the market should rebound. State employees, their families and other members of the retirement systems should not worry about their benefits, the officials said. Benefits for retired state government workers are guaranteed by state law.

The Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, called LASERS, was able to meet its 2008 target rate of return of 8.25 percent. The other three systems were not.

“We never feel directly the very highs and very lows of what can be a rollercoaster of a market,” said Cindy Rougeou, LASERS’ director.

State Rep. J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, said he is optimistic and patient. Pope was one of three House retirement committee members present at the Senate

“All of us realize there are issues with the economy and nation,” Pope said. “They (system officials) are doing what they can to ensure systems remain sound.”

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