State News

Moore: No need to worry about state pension decline

Posted October 13, 2008
Updated November 28, 2008

— North Carolina's public-employee pension funds have dropped in value by at least $6 billion over the last three months.

However, State Treasurer Richard Moore said Monday that the retirement system that supports more than 800,000 current and former state workers is sound. He says retirees should not worry about their monthly pension checks.

"The pension fund of the state of North Carolina and the cities and counties across North Carolina is sound," Moore said. "Retirees out there can rest assured we've got plenty of money, and plenty of money we can lay our hands on, to make their retirement checks come every month just like they're supposed to."

Moore told reporters the pension fund was valued at around $66 billion as of Sept. 30, down from $72 million in June and $78 million a year ago. He said the plan continues to outperform other government pension funds, however, and can pay out all of its benefits. Only a handful of public pension funds nationwide are fully funded.

"We have short-term losses, but those are smaller than most funds of our size because of our conservative asset allocation," he said.

For the year ending Sept. 30, North Carolina's retirement system had a 24 percent loss on its equity returns and a 3 percent increase in bonds.

Moore's figures don't include losses from last week. Unlike most 401(k) plans, the state's pension fund balances aren't broadcast daily, but he said a long-term investment system is better suited to quarterly updates because of the time and money involved in providing daily value estimates.

"I personally have never seen the benefit of spending the people of North Carolina's money to get a day-to-day number that, in a defined-benefit plan, is useless," he said.

Ardis Watkins, legislative affairs director for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said state workers deserve more updated information. The group, which has frequently criticized Moore, also said he shouldn't have sole control over the pension plan.

"State employees have every reason to watch their retirement system returns more closely than ever," Watkins said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Southern Fried Yankee Oct 14, 2008

    May I remind you all that Gov. Easley managed to raid the pension fund for a few years before he paid the money back?

  • Weetie Oct 14, 2008

    I hope this headline is true!

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Oct 14, 2008

    I'm happy with the retirement plan. If it's over funded, leave it so that we can get through the tough times ahead. When we were hired, part of our benefit package is a defined benefit pension for which 6% is deducted from our checks and 6% is matched by the state. What ever I live on now, I will have half of that when I retire, but I won't have the 6% taken out, nor will I have as much tax taken out, no FICA taken out, and I won't have work expenses. If I'm smart I'll have paid off my house and saved in a 401k or IRA.

    My only concern is that politicians will raid the pension fund, I'll retire in 30 years and get nothing. Can you imagine paying 6% out of your check for over 30 years, have no control over it and get nothing?! If the state wants to do defined benefit, they should commit to paying a DEFINED benefit. Otherwise, just let me keep my 6% and match up to 6% in a 401k, then if I retire pennyless its my own fault.

  • Bendal1 Oct 14, 2008

    If the state retirement plan is doing just fine and dandy and is overfunded, how about cutting back on employee payments or increase payouts? For that matter, why doesn't Miller provide where he's invested the retirement plan? ISTR that the managers of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac were all saying the programs were doing fine right up to the point they suddenly weren't...

  • hallmark Oct 14, 2008

    How about you do your research accurately???????? The pension fund is well funded because it takes money from the current employees!!! I am not stupid and I do not nor have I ever believed that a retirement check will be the sole source of support for a retired person but there is an expectation that the pension will be decent! And another thing smarty pants, most folks do invest in IRAs, 401(k) and 457 plans even though the State does not contribute one red cent! I have all 3 plans but I am concerned about the people who make less than $30,000 and have to support a family. I guess you would be of the same sentiment as to begrudge these folks food on their table, clothes on their backs and shelter over their heads. Stop being so selfish and see how the rest of your neighbors are living.

  • fkhaywood Oct 13, 2008

    A pension is not supposed to be the same as your paycheck when you are are working! I was in private industry for 30+ years and my pension is about half of what I earned when working. Anybody that thinks the government (state or federal) or a large coprporation will support you completely in retirement is in for a rude awakening when they retire. That is why I invested in my company-sponsored 401k plan and have other investments (IRA's). North Carolina has one of the best (best funded) retirement systems in the nation! Do your research.

  • hallmark Oct 13, 2008

    You only receive a refund if you request a refund of your contributions and then you are penalized in taxes for withdrawing the money before retirement age unless you transfer it to another retirement plan. Additionally, the interest that was earned off the contributions of state employees should be returned to them. The State pays so little to most employees that the retirement check is almost worthless. Most folks go out and get another job just to make ends meet. If Richard Moore can fund huge performance-incentive pay plans for the fund managers why can't the State take some of that money that is earned over and above the average rate of return and bolster the State Health Plan or fund pay raises for all those employees who makes less than $30,000 a year? Most folks do not realize that a good number of professional state jobs want you to have a college and/or advanced degree yet they pay less than a manager of a fast food restaurant would make. How do you pay student loans?

  • chfdcpt Oct 13, 2008

    The 6% is refunded if you quit government work before you reach 30 years of service. In that case, you are entitled to a refund of the 6% contribution, not the interest earned.

    If you retire with full benefits, you draw 50% of your final salary.

  • lilwil Oct 13, 2008

    I wonder when the 6% will be refunded back? Is this the money Gov. Easley borrowed to help balance the budget?

  • enoughsenough Oct 13, 2008

    I could sure use that 6% they take every month. Between taxes and retirement I loose over $600.00 per month. I make under 26,000 per year. That is alot of money to me. I guess one day I will be glad they took it out, but for now I really could use it.