Pension360 has covered the push in recent weeks by several Kentucky lawmakers to make the state’s pension system more transparent.
The secrecy surrounding Kentucky’s pension investments is well documented, and the issue has even spurred a lawsuit.
One Kentucky newspaper wrote Tuesday that pension officials have “forgotten whom they work for” – the public.
The Herald-Dispatch editorial board writes:
Apparently, [pension officials] are in sore need of a reminder that they are employed to serve the public and, as such, how they conduct their business should be open to scrutiny by the public.
Some want to know more about how the pension funds operate. As of now, Kentucky law allows the systems to operate partly shielded from the public. For example, the public is not allowed to know how much is paid out to individual retirees, nor does the systems have to reveal how much they pay out in fees to individual hedge fund managers who are investing the pension money and other external investment advisers. But we do know they are paying out hefty sums, to the tune of $55 million last year to investment management firms.
The public has a right to know both of those aspects of the pension system.
Private investment companies doing business with governments also must realize who’s paying their fees and that accountability comes with gaining contracts with government-run pension systems. The excuse put forth by Kentucky officials and others about how revealing the investment companies’ contracts would reveal “trade secrets” doesn’t hold up. That argument simply is not sufficient to conceal how much money they are making from taxpayers and the public employees who contribute to the systems. Until that information is revealed, the public has no way to know whether it’s getting its money’s worth from those companies.
A couple of Kentucky lawmakers plan to introduce bills next month that would require the pension systems to use the state’s competitive bidding process, disclosing terms of the deals and the proposed management fees, as well as shed more light on the pension payouts to the state’s lawmakers. All of those requirements would be steps in the right direction and should be put into law.
Read the full piece here.