Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rep. George Flagg's statement on PERS

The following is from Rep. George Flagg's statement to the PERS Study Commission yesterday at the last meeting of the Commission until after the November 8 elections:

The Public Employees Retirement System of Mississippi was created in 1952 to provide retirement security to those who spend their careers in public service patrolling our highways, teaching our children, healing our sick, building our infrastructure and keeping our state, counties and municipalities operating smoothly. The services these individuals provide are critical to ensuring that government operates efficiently and, as I’m sure each of you can appreciate, having a strong government infrastructure in place helps attract and retain industry to our state. 
In evaluating and studying PERS, this Commission should keep in mind that the retirement benefit is a part of the overall compensation package provided to public employees and is, in fact, a form of deferred compensation. Public employees are required to participate and contribute 9.0% of their salary for this benefit. They also, as employees, give up salary today for benefits in the future. This benefit, while vital to many, should not be viewed isolation from the rest of the overall compensation package, which works in total to provide the recruitment tool needed for a quality public workforce. 
For more than 60 years, PERS has been providing retirement security to thousands of Mississippians, keeping many off public assistance and providing a certain amount of dignity. Retirees use these payments to purchase goods and services in the communities in which they live impacting the economy in a positive way. 
To that end, this Commission should not recommend:
  • Privatizing or changing the current defined plan to a defined contribution plan
  • Abolishing the PERS Board of Trustees or changing the make-up of the Board
    • Taxpayers representation is currently provided on the Board by the State Treasurer and the Governor’s Appointee
  • Reducing or eliminating the Cost of Living Adjustment (13th Check)
    • A cost of living adjustment is critical to ensure an individual’s purchasing power keeps up with inflation
Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions as it relates to this Study Commission and its review of PERS.

Well said.

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