Pensions | St. Louis Public Radio

Pensions

Missouri state Treasurer Eric Schmitt
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Treasurer Eric Schmitt to the program.

With his latest appearance, Schmitt becomes the first elected official to be on the show for the fifth time. He was a guest during his tenure as a state senator representing a portion of St. Louis County.

Bob McCulloch is sworn in for another term as St. Louis County Prosecutor in 2015.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The St. Louis County Council gave Prosecutor Bob McCulloch — with unanimous consent — a retirement-pension boost last year. That same council might take it away.

The council will begin hearings Tuesday on a bill to do just that, with several council members contending that County Executive Steve Stenger mislead them last year. He denied that charge and said his adversaries on the council knew exactly what they voted on, deepening the rift that’s been exposed in recent months.

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

Some trustees for the St. Louis Public School Retirement System have been traveling extensively on the system’s dime and answered questions at Monday's board meeting about the benefits of such trips.

The seeming infighting among members of the board, which controls the pension fund for about 10,000 current and retired employees, stems from two trustees racking up the bulk of the nearly $117,000 in travel expenses from 2012 to 2016.

Karen Apricot | Flickr

Retired teachers in Missouri are learning a hard but simple math lesson: Longer life spans plus smaller investment returns equal no cost-of-living raise in their pensions for next year.

In dollars-and-cents terms, that means that the board of the state’s Public School Retirement System has voted that if inflation falls below 2 percent for 2016, which appears all but certain, school retirees will get no raise in their pensions.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway delivered a scathing audit to St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Right before she battled back to reclaim an office she held for more than 30 years, St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter did something most longtime city employees do: She applied for her pension. 

Carpenter served as the city’s recorder of deeds from 1980 to mid-2014. After she resigned, she applied for and started receiving a monthly benefit of $4,238.76. Later that year, she defeated incumbent Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida in a landslide.

Flickr | ChrisYunker

The St. Louis Art Museum is facing a possible deficit of $9 million as a result of an unfunded liability in the city’s Employees Retirement System (ERS). That amount is nearly one-third of the museum’s $29 million 2014 budget.

s_falkow | Flickr

The Missouri Court of Appeals heard arguments today over whether or not the city of St. Louis' new pension plan for firefighters will hold. Officials say the plan will save St. Louis almost $4 million a year. The union representing the firefighters doesn't dispute the cost savings, but says the city had no right to pass the plan in the first place. 

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri Court of Appeals will hear arguments tomorrow on whether the city of St. Louis had the right to make changes to the pension benefits it offers its firefighters.

In lobbying for the changes in 2012, Mayor Francis Slay cited the financial burden pensions were beginning to place on the city. Its budget for fiscal year 2013 included a $31 million contribution to the system, up from $23 million the year before.

For the last decade, one of the key groups influencing legislative initiatives in Missouri, and many other states with a strong conservative presence, has been the American Legislative Exchange Council, more commonly known as ALEC.

Founded by conservative state legislators in 1973 and funded by major corporations, the nonprofit think tank focuses primarily on economic issues but also has zeroed in on public education and gun rights as well.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A St. Louis judge has ruled that the city can establish a new pension system for firefighters.

Judge Robert Dierker made the ruling Monday.

The new system went into effect retroactively Feb.1 and will require firefighters to contribute 9 percent to their retirement. That’s one percent more than currently.

Jeff Rainford---the chief of staff for Mayor Francis Slay---says the new pension will save the city $4 million this year and still benefit firefighters.

McNary Criticizes Zweifel's Handling Of Pensions

Sep 25, 2012
via Flickr/KOMU News

State Representative Cole McNary criticized the State Treasurer's handling of Missouri's pensions Tuesday. McNary is the Republican candidate for the office that is currently held by Democrat Clint Zweifel.

McNary outlined problems he sees with the Missouri State Employees Retirement System: He says there are underfunded pensions, naively optimistic forecasts for returns and a debt that will be a burden on taxpayers.

Morning Headlines: Monday, September 24, 2012

Sep 24, 2012
(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Gingrich in St. Louis to support Todd Akin

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will be in suburban St. Louis on Monday at a fundraiser and news conference in support of Todd Akin's Senate campaign. The men are scheduled to appear at a $500-per-person, or $750-per-couple, fundraiser. They'll also speak at a late-morning news conference in Kirkwood.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

A failed special session that was supposed to lead to the passage of pension reform has pushed Illinois closer to a downgrade of its credit rating.

Gov. Pat Quinn ordered lawmakers back to Springfield last Friday to deal with the state's massively underfunded pension systems, but the chambers could not agree on a deal.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

After five months of debate, major reforms to the pensions for firefighters in St. Louis City are about to become law.

(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)

Lawmakers in Illinois went past their midnight deadline in Springfield on Thursday in an effort to finish their business before the campaign season. In a frenzied end, the General Assembly approved a new state budget and authorized a massive expansion of gambling.

But they're not finished.

The collapse of pension reform means lawmakers will probably return to Springfield this summer. This recap is from Amanda Vinicky in Springfield.

(via Flickr/AnneH632)

Amanda Vinicky contributed reporting from Springfield.

Illinois lawmakers will take a shot today at passing a massive overhaul of the state's pension system.

It's a move permitted by a surprise decision last night by House Speaker Michael Madigan, who handed control of the measure over to the top Republican in the House, Tom Cross.

Ill. lawmakers face complicated task as session enters last month

May 14, 2012
(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)

Reporting from Amanda Vinicky was used in this story.

Like its counterpart in Missouri, the Illinois General Assembly is heading into the home stretch.

Lawmakers there have a bit more time to get through their agenda - their session isn't scheduled to end until the end of May. But unlike lawmakers in Missouri, Illinois legislators have a monumental task in front of them - passing a state budget.

Most state agencies will have their budget cut by 9 percent.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

With a Friday deadline looming, Missouri lawmakers finally reached a compromise on putting the final touches on the state budget.

The agreement addresses veterans’ homes, university funding and other sticking points:  First, budget negotiators agreed to spread an additional $3 million among several universities, including Southeast Missouri State, and dropped a proposal to give $2 million to that school alone.  Also, lawmakers will have to craft a Higher Education funding formula by the end of next year, which would be implemented in July 2014.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

With three weeks left in the legislative session, Governor Jay Nixon (D) is urging lawmakers to fund veterans’ homes, pensions for the blind and other specific needs in the still-unfinished state budget.

Nixon told reporters today that nursing homes for military veterans are woefully underfunded in next year’s $24 billion spending plan, and that a separate bill needs to be passed to insure a dedicated funding source for the homes.

“Missouri’s veterans’ home(s) provide critical services for thousands of men and women who have served our country with honor and bravery," Nixon said.  "Let me be clear, that bill must get to my desk without delay.”

(Tim Bommel/Mo. House communications)

The budget chairman for the Missouri House is not happy with the Senate’s decision early Wednesday morning to restore $28 million for blind pensions.

An amendment by State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) reversed the cut that the House wanted to use for Higher Education.  State Rep. Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) authored the original cut, stating that the pension program is for blind residents who have too much money to be on Medicaid.  He calls the Senate’s actions puzzling.

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