GOV’T OWES $84M TO RETIREMENT SYSTEM

Without $84 million in government payments the Government Employees Retirement System has reached the point where benefits paid out have exceeded contributions received.
Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, GERS officials said the system has a $20 million deficit this year and had to liquidate a chunk of its assets to met retiree payments. According to GERS board chairwoman Corine King, retirement benefits are funded on an actuarial basis during an employee’s active employment, meaning the retirement has been funded in advance.
She said that in fiscal year 1998 $76,868,055 was received in employer and employee contributions. However, $83,952,574 was paid out in benefits.
GERS paid the $11,724,519 difference by liquidating a portion of its stocks and bonds, said GERS Administration chief Lawrence Bryant. He noted that the number of retirees has doubled in the last five years.
"That has meant a decrease in money paid into the system," he said.
GERS officials told senators that government and member contribution rates are not sufficient to meet the cost of funding the system on an actuarial basis, as required by law.
"There were several critical issues which the board recognized needed attention. Such as the Y2K Certification Program (and) the conversion of our data processing system," King said.
One of the most critical problems facing GERS is the "uncontrollable growth of the unfunded liabilities," King said.
According to GERS officials, some 10,646 employees made payroll contributions totaling $424,360,108 for fiscal year 1999. Currently, there are 5,301 retirees receiving annuities estimated at $83,499,266.

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