Local Politics

State pension funds return to profitability

Posted February 10, 2010

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— State Treasurer Janet Cowell said Wednesday that North Carolina's public pension funds earned $7 billion in 2009, rebounding from heavy losses the previous year.

The pension funds, which support more than 820,000 retired state workers and teachers, were valued at $67 billion on Dec. 31.

In 2008, the funds dropped from $77 billion to $60 billion. Much of that decline came amid the global meltdown of stock markets in the final months of the year.

The pension funds bottomed out at about $54.6 billion last March.

For the year, the stock portfolio in the pension funds gained 32.68 percent, while the bond portfolio gained 7.27 percent.

Cowell has urged lawmakers repeatedly over the past year to boost funding for the pension system to make up for market losses and years of small state contributions.

"The long-term health of the pension fund is important not only to retirees, but to the financial stability of the state,” she said in a statement. “It is imperative that state and local leaders prepare for increased and sustained pension contributions in their budgets over the coming years.”

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  • Chatham Adam Feb 11, 2010

    Wayneboyd,

    Under your theory, employees of private companies that build roads, state buildings or military equipment, or provide other services to the state through private contracts, are not "taxpayers in the real sense of the word" because their salary monies originate from the general fund. And how do you categorize the thousands of state employees, like my wife and me, who each year fund our own employment with the state several times over through the money we bring in via grants and other sources which actually increase the general fund? Frankly, there's no difference between me and a prison guard or a school teacher who does not self-fund their state position, or private sector employees. We all get taxed on what we get paid.

    As for your earlier rant about teachers, probation officers and other state employees, are you willing to condemn the private sector and its employees because of Bernie Madoff, Ken Ley and the Enron execs, Merrill Lynch, Big Banks, etc.?

  • Luv2Camp Feb 11, 2010

    I know alot of hardworking good state employees. Many of them stay in tough positions with the hope of getting this pension. The question, as a taxpayer and not a state employee, is this - does the State have enough in the fund to pay for future retiree benefits? What do the actuaries say? Does the fund need some help from the state budget in years to come to meet the obligations OR are state employees looking at a cut in retirement benefits in years to come?

    I am not being critical. I am just honestly curious as to the ability of that fund to meet its obligations without a cut in benefits or money from the state general fund.

  • Objective Scientist Feb 10, 2010

    "wayneboyd - I HAVE ONE QUESTION "OBJECTIVE". FROM WHAT SOURCE DID THE STATE WORKER GET HIS/HER PAYCHECK? WASN'T IT FROM OUR TAX DOLLARS? GOVERNMENT WORKERS PERFORM A SERVICE FOR WHICH THE DOLLARS THEY EARN ARE PAID FOR OUT OF THE STATE REVENUE WHICH IS COLLECTED FROM WORKERS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND WHEN THE STATE WORKER PAYS HIS TAXES IT GOES BACK INTO THE SAME STATE REVENUE FROM WHICH IT ORIGINATED, AND FROM THERE BACK INTO HIS NEXT PAYCHECK, THEREFORE ARE STATE OR ANY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE REALLY A TAXPAYER IN THE REAL SENSE OF THE WORD. I'M NOT STATING THIS SO MUCH IN FACT IS I AM REALLY CURIOUS, I'D LIKE TO KNOW." I'm not certain I understand your question... or the point of the question. However, I don't think that anyone, especially the state employee, would support a notion that the state employee is NOT a taxpayer. The state employee is getting pay for service rendered, service which benefits the state... so that is a "break even" situation.

  • wayneboyd Feb 10, 2010

    I HAVE ONE QUESTION "OBJECTIVE". FROM WHAT SOURCE DID THE STATE WORKER GET HIS/HER PAYCHECK? WASN'T IT FROM OUR TAX DOLLARS?
    GOVERNMENT WORKERS PERFORM A SERVICE FOR WHICH THE DOLLARS THEY EARN ARE PAID FOR OUT OF THE STATE REVENUE WHICH IS COLLECTED FROM WORKERS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND WHEN THE STATE WORKER PAYS HIS TAXES IT GOES BACK INTO THE SAME STATE REVENUE FROM WHICH IT ORIGINATED, AND FROM THERE BACK INTO HIS NEXT PAYCHECK, THEREFORE ARE STATE OR ANY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE REALLY A TAXPAYER IN THE REAL SENSE OF THE WORD. I'M NOT STATING THIS SO MUCH IN FACT IS I AM REALLY CURIOUS, I'D LIKE TO KNOW.

  • Objective Scientist Feb 10, 2010

    "wayneboyd" - I agree with the sentiment in your post. If it is possible to do so, not prohibited by the state and national constitutions, I would definitely be in favor of making loss of pension part of the penalty for some of the crimes you mentioned. It is indeed "horrible" that those folk will receive the awards available to them via he pension fund. However, the pensions received by most state employees are legitimately and lawfully deserved, and a benefit earned through years of devoted service to the state. Most, if not all, NC state employees have also contributed ~50% to the pension in their name... the state is NOT fully funding the pension... ~half the money invested in the fund is the employee's money.

  • wayneboyd Feb 10, 2010

    IT JUST BLESSES MY HEART THAT ALL THOSE SCHOOL TEACHERS WHO MOLESTED INNOCENT CHILDREN, THOSE LIKE THE TWO PROBATION OFFICERS WHO HAD EVE CARSON KILLED AND ARE NOW WORKING IN DURHAM COUNTY, GUYS LIKE LANDRO TIPPETT WHO SQUANDERED MILLIONS OF DOT DOLLARS, THE FOLKS IN WAKE COUNTY SCHOOLS WHO SLEPT WHILE EMPLOYEES STOLE MILLIONS SWAPPING PARTS RECEIPTS FOR CASH, ETC,ETC,ETC,ETC,ETC,ETC,ETC, WILL IN SPITE OF THEIR INCOMPETENCE BE HANDSOMELY REWARDED,

  • tpbwetland Feb 10, 2010

    According to NC Spin's January 31, 2010 show, a conference was just held to look at ways of reducing or eliminating the pension. Forcing all state and teacher employees into a 401k plan entirely funded by the worker was noted as a very plausible option. Bye-bye retirement!!

  • UNC PH.d Feb 10, 2010

    What a ridiculous statement "cantstand".....What, do you think after serving 30 years in a state position, which typically pays WELL BELOW a competing position in the private sector, along with hardly ever any raises or cost of living increases, those retirees don't deserve their pensions?

  • marserobert Feb 10, 2010

    Take the spending power of 800,000 retirees out of the picture and see what happens.