KPERS hit: ALEC-driven lawmakers will target retirement fund.

Source: The Garden City Telegram, September 9, 2015

Brownback has bought into the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “model” legislation on privatization and other fronts, with the Koch-supported Kansas Chamber and Kansas Policy Institute aggressively pushing numerous ALEC “free market” initiatives. … Consider that in the last legislative session, Brownback and his legislative supporters thought it wise to pay down the KPERS debt by selling $1 billion in bonds at an interest rate of 4.69 percent, in spite of serious concern in the invested funds not generating the projected return. Financial experts likened the move to borrowing from the bank to pay off credit cards. …

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Gov. Sam Brownback declines to give clear direction on KPERS privatization, says options will be reviewed
Source: Jonathan Shorman, Topeka Capital-Journal, September 4, 2015

Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday declined to provide clear direction on whether he plans to pursue privatization of the state’s pension program as he touted the recent sale of $1 billion in bonds to boost the underfunded system. … On Friday, Brownback also said the state sold $1 billion in bonds for KPERS at an interest rate of 4.69 percent. KPERS director Alan Conroy, who accompanied Brownback at the news conference, said the proceeds from the bond sale have already been invested. The Legislature passed a bill this past spring authorizing the sale of the bonds. Conroy also said recent market volatility likely wouldn’t affect the pension system’s financial situation.

No easy fix for KPERS unfunded liability, lawmakers are told
Source: Peter Hancock, Lawrence Journal-World, May 6, 2015

Kansas lawmakers who are looking for ways to rid themselves of a $9 billion unfunded liability in the state pension system were told Wednesday that privatizing the system is probably not one of their options. But local officials in Lawrence and Douglas County said persistent talks in the Legislature about overhauling the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System has already become unsettling to many workers. …. State officials began discussing the idea of privatizing the system last fall. During an interim committee meeting in December, Secretary of Administration Jim Clark urged lawmakers to consider a process called “annuitization,” whereby the state would transfer the obligations of KPERS to a private company in exchange for an annual premium. But during a joint meeting of three legislative committees Wednesday, a representative from Prudential, one of the companies that offers such services to private-sector pension plans, said that probably was not an option for Kansas, at least not now. “We cannot take on underfunded obligations,” Prudential’s Glenn O’Brien said. ….

Private retirement plans might cost state workers more, lawmakers hear
Source: Jonathan Shorman, Capital Journal, May 6, 2015

State workers would potentially have to contribute more of their income under private retirement plans, lawmakers heard Wednesday as they mulled changes to the state’s pension system. ….

Lawmakers to hear about privatizing KPERS
Source: Peter Hancock, Lawrence Journal-World, Statehouse Live blog, May 4, 2015

The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS, holds about $16 billion in assets. But its long-term “unfunded liability” — the difference between its assets and obligations already incurred — is estimated at $9.77 billion, according to KPERS spokeswoman Kristen Basso. In April, though, Brownback signed a bill authorizing the state to issue $1.5 billion in pension obligation bonds. Once issued, proceeds of those bonds will be deposited into the KPERS fund and will slightly reduce its unfunded liability. The process being discussed at that time was called “annuitization,” or selling off the pension system’s assets and liabilities to an outside company. Officials have not said how such a process might affect the retirement benefits of KPERS’ 289,000 active and retired members. Sen. Ty Masterson, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, said the meeting will include presentations by four companies that offer annuitization services: Prudential Financial; Security Benefit Group; Fidelity Investments; and Dimensional Fund Advisors. ….

Senate gives early nod to KPERS bond proposal /Legislation would authorize $1 billion in bonds
Source: Jonathan Shorman, Capital-Journal, February 26, 2015
The Senate gave an early nod Thursday to a proposal to issue $1 billion in bonds to help fund the state’s pension system. The legislation, Senate Bill 168, would increase the funded ratio of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System from 60.7 percent to 66 percent. In addition, it would decrease KPERS’ unfunded liability from $7.26 billion to $6.28 billion. …

Editorial: Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan won’t help solve Kansas’ latest pension crisis
Source: Kansas City Star, January 4, 2015
Workers have borne much of the burden of trying to restore the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System to better financial health. Their contributions have moved from 4 percent of pay in 2013 to 6 percent this year. Unfortunately, Gov. Sam Brownback recently announced he planned to cut $58 million in taxpayer contributions to KPERS in the current fiscal year. It’s part of a desperate scheme to balance this year’s budget.

Study of privatizing Kansas public pensions sought
Source: John Hanna, Associated Press, December 19, 2014
Two top aides to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback proposed Friday that Kansas study privatizing the pension system for teachers and government workers. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan and Secretary of Administration Jim Clark told a joint legislative committee on pensions that “reform options” for bolstering the public pension system’s long-term health should be examined. Their list included converting pension benefits into annuities managed by a private insurer. …. The governor said last week that he is working on proposals for ensuring the long-term financial stability of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. His comments followed bipartisan criticism of his diversion of nearly $41 million in state funds from KPERS to general government programs to help close a projected $279 million shortfall in the current budget. …..

Kansas coalition pressing conservative agenda
Source: Tim Carpenter, Capital-Journal, November 29, 2013

An umbrella organization for Kansas political conservatives and tea party enthusiasts crafted a 10-issue manifesto to shape debate in the upcoming legislative session on taxation, fluoride in water, immigration, foster care, education and abortion. Craig Gabel, president of Wichita-based Kansans for Liberty, said pieces of the 2014 agenda would be championed in Topeka by tea party chapter members, as well as people affiliated with the Kansas Republican Assembly, which views the state party apparatus as moderate, and “fair tax” lobbyists who believe the state income tax ought to be replaced by a sales tax. ….. Elements of the coalition platform: ….. Privatize the Kansas Public Employees Retirement system and prohibit collective bargaining by public employees.