Massachusetts’ “T” Pension Fund — the retirement system for employees of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority — has made headlines in recent years for its unprecedented secrecy and exemption to public records requests.
It’s a private trust, and doesn’t qualify for the same disclosure rules as public pension funds.
But it’s also been in the news for its management decisions and underfunding.
Speaking at a State House conference meeting on Wednesday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker called for the state’s $60 billion public pension system for public employees and teachers to manage the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s pension system, because the former has lower costs and better oversight than the latter.
In a wide-ranging speech Wednesday, marking one year since a fiscal control board took over the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Baker said the $1.5 billion fund was in a “free fall” that could threaten its ability to pay retirement benefits for 11,700 current and former transit workers.
“We believe the T’s pension system cannot survive as a standalone entity,” Baker said, noting that its assets had declined by $89 million in the past year alone.
The pension fund has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for failing to disclose losses in a fraudulent hedge fund and running its operation in secrecy, despite receiving tens of millions of dollars annually from taxpayers.
Baker said he will ask the Legislature next year to act so the MBTA fund can be managed by the $60 billion retirement system for the state’s public employees and teachers. The administration has said the state fund has lower costs and better oversight than the T fund.
He did not offer details on how the Legislature would go about allowing the T pension to be managed by the state fund, officially known as the Pension Reserves Investment Trust. He said the administration would be conducting a legal review of the process.
Gov. Baker last month signed a law that opened the “T” fund to public records requests. The fund’s director promptly resigned.