UPIC (10) 2015 Update

Late last year we ran a series of blogs on Union Plans In Crisis based on Schedule MB actuarial information for 2014 concentrating on (at the time) ten plans that sought to cut benefits under MPRA. There are now five more plans and the 2015 MB data is out so it is time for an update:

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Pew Ranks

Last month the Pew Charitable Trusts released their annual funding gap study based on data from the CAFRs of over 230 public pension plans.  There are data glitches that make the results suspect:

But if all the plans have similar data issues then there is something to be gained from looking over and sorting some of Pew’s raw data (in 1,000s).

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United Mine Workers Update

22,000 retired union coal miners in seven states, members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), whose former companies went bankrupt over the past few years are counting on Congress to keep their health benefits through the week.  According to the the UMWA website:

Current status of legislation to protect health care benefits


APRIL 27, 2017

Current status of legislation to protect health care benefits

“Congress will pass a temporary, stop-gap funding bill today that will fund the government through May 5, 2017. It includes language that will extend your benefits through that date.

We expect that the full government funding bill Congress passes will include funding for your benefits. Language doing that is in both the House and the Senate version of the legislation. We believe that your benefits will be extended unless, for some reason, Congress shuts the government down.”

But as for the UMWA Pension Plan, the outlook is even darker.

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Trump’s Tax Plan

Earlier this month at the Enrolled Actuaries meeting the first general session included gossip about what the new president’s plan for tax rates would be:

  • Individual tax rates at 12%, 25% and 33%
  • Corporate tax rates from 35% to 15% with the elimination of most corporate deductions

Earlier today a plan came out:

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Public Pension Reporting and Disclosure: The Dark Side

In a continuing effort to forestall having public pension plans file 5500 forms that would allow for relevant disclosures and honest comparisons the CSLGE and NASRA jointly released a paper on how well the current patchwork system of governments reporting on themselves is working by cherry-picking examples from five systems:

  • California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)
  • Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI)
  • Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS)
  • South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA)
  • Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS)

New Jersey (with that 37.5% funded ratio) was not one of the systems picked and, when comparing the commendable features listed for those five systems to what New Jersey does, for good reason.
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NJ Gubernatorial Candidates Agree on Pensions


But beyond admitting the obvious?

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No ‘Cause For Alarm’ These Days

The busy season is over and it’s time to catch up on some movies.  The first, chosen randomly from my Dark Crimes collection, was Loretta Young and Barry Sullivan in Cause for Alarm from 1951. They had pensions back then as a reward for meritorious service but times have changed.

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