Returning retirees should pay in, Monsour says

Published 11:28 am Thursday, September 20, 2012

Requiring retirees to contribute to the state retirement system if they return to work in the public sector could help keep the system solvent longer, state Rep. Alex Monsour said Wednesday.

Mississippi’s Public Employee Retirement System is about 62.2 percent solvent, versus 88 percent about a decade ago, according to an update this week from PERS officials. While that’s better than other states where teachers, police, firefighters and others have had their systems go broke, it’s critical to do whatever’s necessary to save the state’s system from a similar fate, the Warren County Republican told the Vicksburg Lions Club.

“I tried to address this with a bill,” Monsour said. “We have people retiring from the system and coming back to the system. If you come back you need to contribute to the system.”

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“I think you should because if they’re taking somebody’s slot that would have been another teacher coming in contributing to PERS, then they’re drawing and we don’t have anybody contributing back in,” Monsour said.

A bill Monsour co-authored during the 2012 regular session would have required those who’ve already retired to pay the full amount of employee contributions according to their salary. It died in the House Appropriations Committee.

In October, the PERS board is expected to approve a new employer contribution rate of 15.75 percent, up from 12.93 percent paid by employers in fiscal 2011. No change to the rate employees contribute is in the offing. Mississippi PERS manages pension funds for state and local government retirees and 163,000 active employees, including teachers, prison guards and nonfederal workers.

Monsour, 50, chairs the House Ports, Harbors and Airports Committee and sits on the Constitution, Gaming, Judiciary B, Judiciary En Banc, Public Property, Tourism and Ways and Means committees.