Pension Commission Misses Deadline, Continues Work
The deadline has passed for a state commission charged with making recommendations for addressing Connecticut’s troubled employee pension systems.
But members of the Pension Sustainability Commission are continuing to meet to discuss ways to address the billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities the systems—and taxpayers—face.
Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport), who chairs the 13-member group, said he expects commissioners will continue to meet a few more times to finish their work.
“We’re trying to complete as much of our mandate as possible,” Steinberg said at the commission’s Jan. 18 meeting.
Connecticut has one of the worst-funded state employee pensions systems in the nation, an issue that threatens the state’s long-term fiscal stability.
But worse is that the rate of growth of overall liabilities far exceeds employee and employer contributions and the rate of return on investments.
Fourth Worst Shortfall
The Pew Charitable Trusts released a report last year that shows Connecticut has the fourth worst pension fund shortfall among the 50 states, with just 41% of the assets needed to pay for promised benefits.
The only states worse are New Jersey and Kentucky, which each have 31% of pensions funded, and Illinois at 36%.
Commissioners have explored several ways to bolster the pension plans, including converting state-owned assets like undeveloped land and office buildings into a trust fund.
But after analyzing state properties, commissioners doubted whether there are insufficient assets to reach the commission’s goal to generate $1 billion in income.
The commission also discussed using a portion of proceeds from the state lottery to fund the teachers’ retirement system.
The commission plans to approach new state treasurer Shawn Wooden for his opinion on tapping lottery revenues.
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