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On the Comptroller’s New Public Pension Report

Blog

Today, the Texas Comptroller released a much-anticipated report examining Texas’ public pension systems. The report, Your Money and Pension Obligations, offers a comprehensive look at the composition, cost, operations, and financial health of Texas’ state and local government retirement systems and gives policymakers a few good government reforms to take into the next legislative session (more on those later).

The report offers a lot of good detail, data and visuals—definitely recommended reading for those wanting a complete look at Texas’ state and local government retirement systems. But for those just wanting a quick synopsis, here it is: Texas’ public pension systems are, for the moment, in relatively good standing; but these are extraordinary times and we must remain vigilant to ensure these systems’ sustainability, a must for both taxpayers and beneficiaries.

The price of not being watchful is evident in the report, as numerous instances are cited where public pension systems have either gone into bankruptcy or are on the verge of doing so, putting taxpayers in those regions in grave danger.

To keep Texas taxpayers from experiencing a scenario like this, four recommendations are put forward in the report:

    • Beef up the Pension Review Board’s (PRB) oversight and authority of Texas’ public pension systems. Currently, they are somewhat of a toothless organization.
    • Encourage the PRB “to adopt model ethical standards and conflict of interest disclosure requirements for public pension boards.”
    • Require all public pension plans to post basic information online, like contact information and basic financial data.
    • Keep the legislature involved by continuing to study the financial health and well-being of Texas’ public pension systems and making recommendations on how to keep them strong.