Pew Charitable Trust ranks Tennessee pension system among solvent few
TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY
The Pew Charitable Trusts published research last week that ranked the Tennessee as one of the best-funded state pension programs in the country.
A non-profit focused on non-partisan government research, Pew Charitable Trusts listed Tennessee, along with Wisconsin, South Dakota, and New York as best prepared to fulfill pension promises made to public employees.
Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) is the defined benefit pension plan serving more than 350,000 active and retired state, higher education, and participating local government employees, as well as K–12 public teachers. Administered by the Tennessee Department of Treasury, TCRS provides a lifetime retirement, survivor and disability benefits for employees and their beneficiaries.
Some states struggle with pension funding as low as 31%, Pew says successful states like Tennessee have “records of making actuarial contributions, managing risk, and avoiding unfunded benefit increases.”
“My primary focus as Treasurer is protecting the retirement of our teachers, state government employees, local government employees, police officers and firefighters, and others who have dedicated their lives to serving Tennessee,” State Treasurer David H. Lillard., Jr. said. Lillard also serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for TCRS. “I am extremely proud of this achievement and the work Tennessee does every day to protect the retirement of those who serve the public in Tennessee.”
Lillard says the fund has benefited from sound financial management and proactive investment management. In the last fiscal year the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System paid $2.4 billion to 153,917 retirees across the state. The retirement benefits paid by TCRS have an economic impact in all 95 counties.
The Tennessee General Assembly has consistently voted to fully fund the actuarial contribution – a key factor in Pew’s recognition of successful public pension plans. TCRS also has a legislative oversight committee, the Council on Pensions and Insurance, which develops, recommends, and establishes pension and retirement standards and maintains a progressive state policy on retirement.
Rep. Charles Sargent of Franklin serves as Chair of the Council, as well as a member of the TCRS Board of Trustees, which is responsible for the general administration and proper operation of TCRS.
“As I look toward my own upcoming retirement, I am proud of the work of the Treasury, the Council, the Board, and the General Assembly to protect retirement benefits in our state,” Sargent said. “I can rest assured knowing that we have built a solid foundation for the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System that will ensure the promised benefits for not only myself, but for all TCRS members, as well as those in public service for generations to come.”
Sen. Bo Watson, Council Co-Chair and member of the TCRS Board of Trustees, said, “It is an institutional discipline – Republican or Democrat – it does not matter. We fund our pensions.”