Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Retirement debt control sought

Louisiana must get financial control over its four state retirement systems, which are draining more and more funds away from essential state services and programs, House Speaker Jim Tucker said Monday.

Tucker described legislation he is pushing that would move retirement plans from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan. Another bill Tucker described would create an expert panel to oversee $23 billion in investments of all four retirement systems to help them reap higher returns.

The legislation would affect the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana and systems covering State Police and school employees.

However, the chief of one of the larger systems said Tucker’s bills won’t fix the retirement problem he noted.

The legislative package is scheduled to go before the House Retirement Committee on Thursday, where opposition is expected to line up from the affected retirement systems that cover some 280,000 active and retired workers.

“The unfunded accrued liability continues to be of great concern to us. We appreciate efforts to pay down this debt,” said Cindy Rougeou, executive director of LASERS. “But neither of these proposals … involves reduction of that obligation that the state is constitutionally required to address. And they certainly cannot assure increased investment returns.”

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