West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise is expected by the end of next month to authorize the state to issue $3.9 billion in pension obligation bonds to pay off much of the states unfunded liabilities, said Greg Burton, secretary of administration. The states Pension Bond Review Committee approved the issuance April 17. If the issuance is approved by the state Legislature, the investment staff at the $5.4 billion West Virginia Investment Management Board, Charleston, will withdraw a request to increase its equity allocation for two underfunded state systems, said H. Craig Slaughter, executive director. The Legislature would have to meet in special session to approve the sale, since its 2002 legislative session ended.
The $80 million West Virginia Public Safety Employees Retirement System is only 23% funded, and the $1 billion West Virginia Teachers Retirement System is 21% funded. To address the situation, the IMB had asked to increase the cap on equity investments to 70% from the current 60%, but state legislators did not approve the request before ending this years session.