Pension lobbyists are delighted President Clinton, in last nights State of the Union address, signaled strong support for pension simplification legislation that would make it easier for companies to set up pension plans. But, at the same time, one expressed disappointment the president continues to oppose legislation that would let companies tap excess pension assets to fund other employee benefits.
``We are obviously pleased that he thought pensions were an important enough issue that he would mention it,'' said Stephen W. Kraus, chief counsel of pensions at the American Council of Life Insurance.
``While we may disagree on some of the details of how to get there, everybody agrees to simplify the existing system.''
Mark J. Ugoretz, president of the ERISA Industry Committee, an association representing large companies, registered his dismay at the administration's stance on pension fund asset reversions. Companies, he said, should be allowed to use excess pension assets ``to pay for other retirement savings and health security programs.''
The $44 billion Teacher Retirement System of Texas, Austin, hired Bear Stearns Fiduciary Services to do a comprehensive review of the system. Bear Stearns is expected to report its findings by mid-July, said Carol Smith, senior assistant at the state auditor's office.
Bear Stearns will evaluate the system, including investment policies and operating procedures; internal investment management; external investment and consulting services; asset allocation; strategies; risks; and investment costs. Ms. Smith said there are no current plans to act on the findings.
The $49 billion New Jersey Division of Investment, Trenton, hopes to nudge up its exposure to international securities by year end to 18% of total assets, from 13% now, said Roland M. Machold, director. ``We're in no rush,'' he said. The division may invest up to 20% of its assets in international securities under its current asset allocation.