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Public Employees' Retirement System Study Commission

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Read the final report of the PERS Study Commission here and appendices here.

Dec. 14, 2011
PERS STUDY COMMISSION RELEASES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STRENGTHENING PENSION FUND
The Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) Study Commission released its report today recommending several investment, management and policy changes to protect the long-term solvency of the state’s public pension fund.  The report also includes a legal analysis of benefit modifications.

PERS STUDY COMMISSION – PUBLIC HEARING

The PERS Study Commission held a public comment opportunity on Sept. 14, 2011, at the Mississippi State Capitol.  The hearing was announced statewide and provided a venue for the public to provide input regarding the state’s retirement system. Speakers were asked to register beforehand and comments were limited to three minutes per speaker.

The public comment hearing was attended by more than 100 individuals, including legislators, retirees, current state employees, interest groups, members of the media and members of the general public.  A video of the entire hearing may be accessed HERE.

PERS Study Commission Chairman George Schloegel provided opening comments  and explained the role of the PERS Study Commission, its scope as established by Gov. Barbour’s executive order and the timeline for making recommendations to the 2012 Legislature, Governor and general public. The chairman emphasized the fact that no recommendations had yet been made by the commission, and the commission does not have authority to make any changes to the retirement system.  Chairman Schloegel said only the Legislature can consider changes to the PERS plan.

Chairman Schloegel’s comments were followed by brief remarks from the actuarial consulting firm, Gabriel, Roeder, Smith, & Company, hired to assist the commission in its study of the state’s retirement system.  Ken Alberts, lead consultant from GRS, provided some background information on the company and its extensive work helping states analyze pension plans.  A copy of the information provided by GRS can be found here. For more information regarding GRS, please visit their website at: www.gabrielroeder.com.

The commission heard from 15 speakers at the hearing, including Philene Allen, Mississippi Professional Educators; Chip Denton, CEO of Grenada Lake Medical Center; Brenda Scott, Mississippi Alliance of State Employees/CWA; Carolyn Smith, president of the Retired Education Personnel of Mississippi; Kay Sims, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College; Ann Thames, former employee at the Mississippi Department of Mental Health; Dwight Luckett, Canton School District; Dr. Phillip Burchfield, Clinton Public School District; Kay Clay, retired superintendent; Kevin Gilbert, Mississippi Association of Educators; Rob Martin, Mississippi Fire Chiefs Association president; Tim Medley, Medley & Brown Financial Advisors; Sam Valentine, Mississippi Retired Public Employees Association president; Jameson Taylor, Mississippi Center for Public Policy; and Mary Perry, Meridian Councilwoman.  Some speakers provided written copies of their comments which can be accessed here. Additional written comments received by the commission can be accessed here and here.

What is the PERS Study Commission?

The Public Employees' Retirement System Study Commission, created by Gov. Haley Barbour, will analyze the program's structure and recommend improvements to keep PERS solvent and will protect the interests of taxpayers and current and retired state employees.

The 12-member commission will provide a comprehensive report to Gov. Barbour and the Legislature by Nov. 15.

The PERS Study Commission will recommend improvements to the system’s financial, management and investment structure.  The responsibilities of the commission include:

  • Analyzing the financial structure and funding mechanism of PERS, including an analysis of the ratio of taxpayer to employee contributions;
  • Analyzing the management structure of the agency, including the make up of the PERS Board of Trustees;
  • Analyzing the investment structure of PERS, including any comparison to similarly sized funds, as well as larger funds, with respect to performance and fees charged; and
  • Analyzing the legality of modifying the benefit structure for current and future state employees.

Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel serves as chairman of the commission. Joining Mayor Schloegel is a wide array of business leaders and those with expertise in pension issues, including Will Flatt of Parkway Properties; former Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson; Harry Walker of Trustmark Bank; Seale Pylate of Phelps Dunbar; Bill Crawford, former legislator and businessman from Meridian; Bill Benson, Lee County Chancery Clerk and current chairman of the PERS Board of Trustees; and Kevin Upchurch, Department of Finance and Administration Director.

Legislators who are non-voting members of the commission include: Sen. Hob Bryan, Sen. Dean Kirby, Rep. Preston Sullivan and Rep. Greg Snowden.

Questions or comments regarding the PERS Study Commission should be submitted to [email protected]. The Study Commission has developed a suggested public comment form that you may fill out and submit via email to this address. However, responses are not limited to this public comment form. The public comment form can be downloaded here.

Read the Executive Order establishing the commission here.

Download the Request for Proposals to provide professional services relating to pension actuarial services here.

View the responses to questions posed regarding the RFP here.