2 Minnesota pension funds at odds over merging with state teachers plan

Minnesota State Capitol
Minnesota State Capitol

Two local teachers pension plans in Minnesota have opposing views on proposals to merge them with the state teachers plan.

In separate preliminary votes Wednesday, the board of the $926 million St. Paul Teachers' Retirement Fund Association voted against the merger with the $18 billion Minnesota Teachers Retirement Association, also of St. Paul, while trustees of the $210 million Duluth Teachers' Retirement Fund Association voted in favor of the merger.

The proposed merger of both funds with the TRA came from a request from the state Legislature to have representatives of the three funds form a study committee to look at combining the assets and administration of the local pension funds under the state teachers plan. If merged, assets of the plans would be managed by the $65 billion Minnesota State Board of Investment, St. Paul, which currently manages TRA's assets.

Currently, each of the two city plans has its own stable of external managers; what would happen to those firms hasn't been determined.

Paul Doane, executive director of the St. Paul teachers plan, said late Wednesday that despite the board's vote to remain separate from the state teachers plan, the ultimate decision rests with the state Legislature. Although he added that, “I would say the (vote) will carry significant weight. … From the information and understanding I have, there is very little merit in joining TRA.”

J. Michael Stoffel, executive director of the Duluth plan, said Thursday that St. Paul's vote would have no impact on his plan's merger.

The study group continues to meet and is scheduled to issue a report to the state Legislature in January. The report's findings could lead to legislation required to merge one or both of the plans with the state plan.

The two associations are the only local teachers plans in the state that are not part of the TRA.