Kansas Lawmakers Meet to Discuss Privatization of Pension System

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Several groups of lawmakers are meeting on Wednesday to discuss the privatization of Kansas’ public pension system.

Some lawmakers and government officials – most notably, the state’s budget director – have tossed the idea around for nearly six months, but all parties remain non-committal.

During Wednesday’s meetings, lawmakers will hear from several companies that could be involved in the privatization process, if it were ever to happen.

More from the Lawrence Journal-World:

The process being discussed [is] called “annuitization,” or selling off the pension system’s assets and liabilities to an outside company. Officials have not said how such a process might affect the retirement benefits of KPERS’ 289,000 active and retired members.

Wednesday’s meeting, scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon, will involve the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the House Appropriations Committee and the Joint Committee on Pensions, Investments and Benefits.

Sen. Ty Masterson, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, said the meeting will include presentations by four companies that offer annuitization services: Prudential Financial; Security Benefit Group; Fidelity Investments; and Dimensional Fund Advisors.

“We’re just looking at what some of the market options are,” Masterson said.

KPERS provides retirement benefits to most state employees outside the Regents university system, as well as school district, city, county and other local government employees. Officials for unions representing those workers said they see little benefit to privatizing the system.

“The bottom line is, the KPERS system is a good system. But it has been chronically underfunded,” said Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for the Kansas National Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. “If you let someone else run it and you still underfund it, it doesn’t solve the problem.”

The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System manages $16 billion in pension assets for nearly 290,000 members.

 

Photo credit: “Seal of Kansas” by [[User:Sagredo|. Http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seal_of_Kansas.svg#mediaviewer/File:Seal_of_Kansas.svg

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