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Commission forms to study structure of retirement system

JACKSON — Gov. Haley Barbour has created the Public Employees’ Retirement System Study Commission to analyze the program’s structure and recommend improvements to keep PERS solvent and to protect the interests of taxpayers and current and retired state employees.

The 12-member commission will provide a comprehensive report to Gov. Barbour and the Legislature by Nov. 15.

“The current funding path for Mississippi’s pension system relies too heavily on increased contributions from taxpayers,” Barbour said. “Large benefit increases adopted in the 1990s and early 2000s coupled with the impact of the economic downturn have created a financially unsustainable system. The Commission will take a hard look at the tough decisions that need to be implemented to ensure the long-term solvency of the system.”

Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel will serve as chairman of the commission. Joining Schloegel is a wide array of business leaders and those with expertise in pension issues, including: Will Flatt of Parkway Properties; former Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson; Harry Walker of Trustmark Bank; Seale Pylate of Phelps Dunbar; Bill Crawford, former legislator and businessman from Meridian; Bill Benson, Lee County Chancery Clerk and current chairman of the PERS Board of Trustees; and, Kevin Upchurch, Department of Finance and Administration Director.

Legislators who are non-voting members of the commission include Sen. Hob Bryan, Sen. Dean Kirby, Rep. Preston Sullivan and Rep. Greg Snowden.

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