Barbour creates board to keep PERS solvent

From Barbour's office:

Gov. Haley Barbour today announced the creation of the Public Employees’ Retirement System Study Commission to analyze the program’s structure and recommend improvements to keep PERS solvent and to 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 current funding path for Mississippi’s pension system relies too heavily on increased contributions from taxpayers,” Gov. Barbour said. “Large benefit increases adopted in the 1990s and early 2000s coupled with the impact of the economic downturn have created a financially unsustainable system. The Commission will take a hard look at the tough decisions that need to be implemented to ensure the long-term solvency of the system.”

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 will serve 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.