Wednesday, May 22, 2013The SDSEO held its first ever forum for an entire district's current legislators last night. It was for District 24, which is plum packed with state government employees. Senator Jeff Monroe and Reps. Mary Duvall and Tim Rounds were in attendance and eager to hear from state employees. Did they have people to interact with? There were a few state government employees who showed up to interact with the folks who make the laws that govern the employment of state employees, but not many. Considering it was a rainy night with lots of events canceled, and considering we blitzed the radio airwaves and the daily newspaper with advertising, and considering the event was specifically for state employees and SDSEO members, the turnout was disappointing. However, those who attended had great ideas, and those are the ideas we'll move forward with. We'll have another forum in Pierre, and we hope for better attendance. Here's the Pierre Capital Journal story on the event: Legislators Discuss Issues With State Employees.
Categories: Legislative, Media, Meetings, Member, SDSEO Chapter, SDSEO Office
Tuesday, April 2, 2013The South Dakota Retirement System board of directors will meet in Pierre on April 3 and April 4. That's a Wednesday and a Thursday. The agenda for the meeting is here (sheet 1) and here (sheet 2). Looks like quite a bit of reviewing of 2013 and preparing for 2014. Lots of important items, including the effective rate of interest for FY 2014 and quite a few "state of the system" topics. SDSEO executive director Eric Ollila will attend the meetings.
Categories: Meetings, Member, South Dakota Retirement System
Thursday, October 18, 2012
After all was said and done very little changed at the South Dakota Retirement System meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Benefits were left untouched and will probably remain that way this year. The day was spent trying to get a clear picture of where the system stands. In a system that has so many variables, it is difficult to determine if we currently have enough invested and are collecting enough contributions to sustain the system into perpetuity. Assumptions such as investment returns, retirement ages, final average salaries, mortality rates and many others have been set. The problem is we are trying to determine what will happen over the next 30 to 40 years. If our estimates miss even slightly when it is multiplied by the size of our system, the numbers become huge.
In the past, SDRS had reserves that could be tapped when assumptions were not met, but after several years of tough economic conditions, those reserves are gone. This makes our assumption more important. In the end, the investment returns, final average salary and the numerous items we give an “educated guess” to will either be higher or lower than what we assumed. If we are wrong in a good direction, such as investment returns at 8% rather than 7.5%, we will have more money to pay benefits. But if we are wrong the other way, we better have contingency plans in place to handle the shortfall.
Over the next year and possibly longer we will try to formalize these contingency plans. We also will be looking at each benefit to see if we have any benefits that would be considered “over generous” or “inequitable”. It is possible that there could be changes in the system to help build more of a comfort level or conservatism into the system. This process should be tracked by all SDRS members, and this is a good point to add our opinions about the direction the system should go. We can have a lot more influence at the early stages of the process than later, after other ideas have built momentum.
In the current political climate of our nation, pension systems such as SDRS are under attack. If we cannot make this system work within our current resources, the system will go away. SDRS is viewed as a model system on the national scene. We have shown that a pension system run wisely can work and provide a good value to its members and to taxpayers. We must continue to be proactive to maintain the system and to provide the best possible benefit to our members.
- Eric Stroeder, State Employee Representative, SDRS Board of Trustees
Categories: Meetings, Member, South Dakota Retirement System
Wednesday, September 19, 2012The SDSEO executive board met this past weekend. As executive director, I thought the meeting went well. Past SDSEO president Fred Nelson was a guest speaker, and he made an excellent presentation about how executive boards and executive directors can serve their organization and their membership. While Nelson's presentation was "on the mark" and will no doubt positively affect the SDSEO and all it does for quite some time, perhaps the best part of him being there was simply him being there.
While the board members and myself were able to take from him his knowledge, in interacting with him, we were able to give him deeper insight into ourselves and the organization as it stands today, insight which he will then take to others. Note how I say "will then take" and not "can" or "might." In science, we may have "every action is met with an opposite but equal reaction," but in communication, you can leave out the "opposite"; in communication, you typically get what you give, so "every action is met with an equal reaction." Just as I'm talking up Nelson and his presentation, I'm certain he's doing the same for the executive board and me. That's why it's important for the SDSEO and all of its members and supporters to "spread the word, with positivity" about the SDSEO and everything we are and everything we do.
If you haven't seen the News page, know that State Employees Day will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It'll be in the President's and Speaker's lobbies off the Senate and House floors, respectively. I'm thinking we'll do ice cream and brownies or something along those lines. Everybody is welcome to attend. I do hope to have a good turnout of both state employees and of SDSEO members.
The Department of Human Resources put out a new Benefit News Briefing on Sept. 14. Here's a PDF. Here are some highlights:
- There's a blood drive tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 20) in Pierre.
- Walgreen's is up and running as a pharmacy provider for the state employee health plan.
- There's a fitness challenge for what should be a nice hybrid bike, some helmets, and a couple bike racks. (Note from Eric: Please try to take advantage of the opportunities you have as a state employee to improve your physical fitness. It helps the state to have fit, healthy employees, and it helps you to be fit and healthy as well. Everybody wins.)
- There's a section on what kind of medical provider you need, based upon your symptoms.
- There are a couple road-race plugs. More fitness!
Categories: Benefits News Briefing, Bureau of Human Resources, Executive Board, Health, Legislative, Meetings, State Employees Day
Friday, July 20, 2012I spent most of yesterday at the South Dakota Retirement System's board of trustees meeting. Lots of things happened with one vote that will affect state employees and the rest of the members of the SDRS. The vote was taken on "recommended actuarial assumption changes." Here's the breakdown:
- The board voted 8-3 to reduce the long-term investment return assumption from 7.75% to a short-term/long-term assumption of 7.25% for five years, then to 7.50%. This action will reduce the total dollars available when system planning. There is no date for implementation, but expect something within the next couple months.
- Specific assumptions that will be looked at: post-termination mortality, pre-termination mortality, salary scale, retirement, termination, disability, inflation, COLA, and interest on accumulated contributions. "Assumptions" are things the SDRS considers when planning the system (e.g., fewer terminations than planned for leads to system financial losses, as the SDRS plans for, or assumes, those terminations).
- With the same vote, the board elected to look at changes to nearly all SDRS benefits. COLA, special early retirement, early retirement, vested benefits, and nearly everything else will be looked at. So, the overall SDRS plan design (i.e., its goals) will also be looked at.
The next meeting of the SDRS board will be Sept. 5-6.
Categories: Meetings, South Dakota Retirement System