Public plan disclosure bill in House again

A bill was reintroduced in the U.S. House on Wednesday that would require annual reports from state, county and municipal pension plans.

The proposed legislation, sponsored by California Republican Reps. Devin Nunes and Darrell Issa and Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would require the funds to report total assets, liabilities, funding status and actuarial assumptions to the Treasury Department. The information also would be made available through a public database.

The bill was first introduced late last year.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, a lobbying group, said in a news release that the severity of the pension funding problem is difficult to ascertain because of “the convoluted, often faulty methods used by state and local governments to determine their liabilities.”

“It is time to remove the fog surrounding state and local government pension plans,” Tom Schatz, CCAGW president, said in the news release. “Rep. Nunes' legislation is an important step toward transparency and accountability in government. Taxpayers pay all public salaries, and they will eventually shoulder this tremendous pension burden. They need to know the full extent of their exposure.”

The National Council on Teacher Retirement opposes the bill, stating in a news release that the proposal “represents a fundamental lack of understanding regarding the strong accounting rules and strict legal constraints already in place that require open and transparent governmental financial reporting and processes.”

“Their new legislation is no different,” Jim Mosman, NCTR executive director, said in the release. “It would recklessly create turmoil in the municipal bond markets and scare bondholders, taxpayers and retirees by erroneously claiming our members' pension trusts will soon be exhausted. That is simply not the case.”