Kansas insists pension fund still stable amid concerns
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say retirees won’t be affected by eliminated or delayed pension fund payments to teachers and other government workers.
Officials with the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System assured retirees’ financial safety to a legislative oversight committee on Monday. The message was part of the retirement system’s annual report to the Legislature about the actuarial value of the pension fund and the estimated difference between its current assets and long-term obligations, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .
“Our members should not worry about getting their retirement benefits,” said Alan Conroy, executive director of the retirement system. “No retiree should worry about not getting their retirement benefit.”
KPERS is a pension system that manages the retirement accounts of more than 300,000 members, including state, city, county and school district employees.
Lawmakers eliminated a nearly $100 million payment to the pension fund last year to help balance the state budget. They also delayed a $64 million payment this year and said they plan to delay another $194 million.
Conroy said those decisions will have little impact on the fund, which he said is now valued at more than $18 billion.
Republican state Rep. Steven Johnson said he’s not worried about the cuts.
“There is a significant amount in the trust fund. The risk to benefits is not there,” said Johnson, who chairs the Joint Committee on Pensions, Investments and Benefits.
Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly said the retirement system is now nearly 67 percent funded. This means if no new money were put in and no new employees were added, the fund would have 67 percent of all the money it needs to pay the debts it has acquired.
“That’s a safe zone, between 60 and 80 (percent),” Kelly said. “It’s an improvement over the past, so we’re going in the right direction.”
Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com