Texas Lawmaker Ponders Quarterly Public Pension Reports

August 10, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Two Texas lawmakers are studying whether to require Lone Star State public pension systems to report their financial conditions more frequently as a way to keep better track of those that may be ailing.

State Representative Craig Eiland said lawmakers will be studying a proposal by the Texas Pension Review Board to institute a quarterly reporting system for public plans to flag potential problems early, according to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram news report.

“It certainly sounds like a good idea, and you would think that it could be accomplished, but there just seems to be some difficulty in getting together the early warning that would actually mean something and not just be additional work and gobbledygook,” Eiland told the newspaper. This week, Eiland chaired a meeting of the state Legislature’s House Pensions and Investment Committee looking into the issue.

Also, Eiland and committee Vice Chairman Dan Flynn are expected to recommend that pension actuaries’ work have an external, third-party review.

According to the news story, public pension administrators insist current reporting systems are adequate and putting the burden on them to report more data would not provide meaningful information. They say they support other measures, such as asking for more scrutiny of some pension experts.

“It’s redundant to require additional reports that are less accurate” than the annual figures pensions provide, Max Patterson, former executive director of the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund, testified before Eiland’s committee, the Star-Telegram reported.

The Eiland committee’s recommendations will be part of an interim report to be presented to House Speaker Tom Craddick by January 1, he said.

‘ worst pension problems were caused by actuarial errors, said Randy Stalnaker, a former member of the board of the Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems, the state’s largest organization of public pension board members and administrators. “When errors were found, they were uncovered when the plans changed actuaries,” Stalnaker testified before Eiland’s committee, according to the newspaper.