Former Massachusetts Treasurer, Now Trustee of MBTA Pension, Will Push Hard for Transparency

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Former Massachusetts Treasurer Steve Grossman, a recently-appointed board member of theMBTA pension fund, said he plans to push hard to bring transparency to the pension fund.

MBTA’s pension system is notoriously opaque, and the law allows it to be. The fund is run by a private trust, which means it is exempt from open meetings and public records laws.

More from MassLive:

Grossman could be an influential voice calling for change. Grossman said he would like to see the MBTA’s pension system become subject to the same open meeting and open records laws that apply to the state retirement system.

“An entity that is using public resources should be subject to a similar set of rules and procedures as other (state) pension funds,” Grossman said. “To the extent that tax dollars are ultimately flowing into that fund, it should behave and operate in a way that’s consistent with what I’d call best practices.”

Grossman said for the retirement fund meetings to be closed to the public, “I just think that’s wrong.”

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The biggest issue related to transparency is that the MBTA pension fund is run by a private trust. So unlike the state employee retirement system, the MBTA pension fund is not subject to open meeting or open records laws. The money going into the pension fund comes from the MBTA and its employees, so to the extent that taxpayer money is used to fund the MBTA, taxpayer money is being invested in the pension fund.

The pension fund came under increased scrutiny after the Boston Globe reported on a $25 million hedge fund investment that went bad. The Globe filed a lawsuit to get access to documents related to the pension fund. The Legislature last year tried to force more disclosure by the board, but instituted only modest rule changes, the Globe reported.

The pension fund manages approximately $1.6 billion in assets.

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