LINCOLN — Legislative fixes and better investment returns yielded good news for the school employee retirement plan Monday.
Together, they mean the state won't need additional money to keep the plan healthy, according to Pat Beckham, an actuary with Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting.
But the retirement plans for judges and the State Patrol will need infusions of funds to balance projected assets with projected liabilities.
The judges plan needs another $835,000, while the patrol plan needs about $4.7 million, Beckham said.
She delivered results of the plans' annual actuarial study to a joint meeting of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Board and the Nebraska Investment Council.
State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, chairman of the Public Employees Retirement Systems Committee, said he was pleased with the new figures for the school plan.
“It looks like the major reforms we passed last year put us on the pathway to full health,” he said. “That's a positive outcome.”
The changes included reducing the retirement benefits for teachers and other school employees hired July 1 or later.
They also included making what had been temporarily higher contribution rates into permanent ones.
Nordquist said lawmakers worked with teachers, school administrators and other interested parties to agree on the changes needed.
“It really is a great example of how we can do things in Nebraska,” he said.
With the changes, and if all assumptions are met, Beckham said the school employees retirement plan is on track to become fully funded by 2033.
The other two plans would reach full funding in 30 years, but only if the state continues to add money each year beyond what current law requires.
Declining revenue from court fees is a concern for the judges plan, she said. The patrol plan has fewer people contributing to the retirement benefits.
Nordquist said he and his staff are looking at ways to improve the health of those two plans.
He said they are working with the judges to figure out why the court fee revenue has been going down. Revenue from the $6 fee that supports judges' retirement dropped from $3.4 million in 2011-12 to $3.2 million last year.
Nordquist said he and his staff have been looking at several possibilities for the patrol plan but are holding off on them while a lawsuit filed by the troopers union is pending.
The federal lawsuit alleges that the increases in employee retirement contributions were never agreed to in their union contract, which makes them unconstitutional. The suit was filed one year ago.
Beckham noted that the current fiscal year is the last one in which retirement plans will have to account for losses from the 2008 recession.
Correction: Pat Beckham was misidentified in a previous version of this story.