So the State legislature finally decided to pony up additional money to fund PERS appropriately. Their portion will increase from 14.26 percent to 15.75 percent. Of course, had they been funding it all along as outlined by the actuaries, this big jump would not be necessary.
And how will the State of Mississippi come up with the added money in these very tight times? According to Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, “The decision that the budget committee made was to allow for state agencies to fund any increase in the PERS contribution within existing budget outlines.”
Reeves said, “They’ll have to come up with the money.” Seriously?
Coming up with the money means NOT filling vacancies and requiring more of existing state workers. It may mean limiting raises and other benefits just to comply with past promises.
Reeves said that the department heads will have “to manage their agencies more efficiently.” Again, seriously?!?
The auditor’s annual report on the legislature shows that maybe the Lt. Governor lives in a glass house. The session only runs about a quarter of the year, but the 2012 session cost taxpayers $20.6 million dollars. That’s a whopping 11.3 percent more than the previous year. Of that, $12.4 million was spent on salaries and benefits for the members, and that is 8.8 percent higher than the previous year. I guess austerity only applies to everyone else.
And where did the other money go? They spent $13,406 on bottled water. I suppose tap water isn’t good enough for the high and mighty lawmakers. And they spent $2,600 on a service just to tell them what other people are saying about them. Have they not heard about Facebook?
And get this … they are paid $1,500 a month NOT to work. That’s their paycheck when the legislature is NOT in session. OK, one more time … SERIOUSLY???
Reeves’ office responded with the contention that this argument is comparing the cost of a 120-day session versus a 90-day session.
However, as a taxpayer, I could care less whether the legislature does its business in 90 or 120 days. For me, the issue is the total cost of the body. They spent more money this year than last. What if we paid by the session instead of “by the hour?”
People who live in glass houses…
>> Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is www.newper.com.