Two of Montana's public pension funds will receive a total of $125 million from the state's budget surplus to help bridge an estimated $1.4 billion shortfall, confirmed Sarah Elliott, communications director for Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Mr. Schweitzer signed legislation Monday to split a portion of the state's nearly $300 million budget surplus between the $4 billion Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration and the $2.5 billion Teachers' Retirement System of Montana, both in Helena. Most of the money - $100 million - will go to the teachers fund.
Mr. Schweitzer called a special legislative session last week in part to address the funds' combined unfunded liability: $541 million for PERS and $903 million for TRS, Ms. Elliott said.
The Legislature also approved a bill last week that would require the State Administration and Veterans' Affairs Interim Committee to issue a report on the state's retirement systems, including its assessment of the systems' fiscal soundness and analysis of any proposed legislation related to the pension systems, said Michael O'Connor, executive director of PERS.
"We do plan to do more work in the regular 2007 session," Ms. Elliott said. "We have no rose-colored glasses about this ... the unfunded liabilities need to be seriously considered."