Incumbent candidates and parties largely won re-election in state and local races Nov. 6, thwarting proposals by several losing candidates to place new public employees into defined contribution plans.
Meanwhile, most of the constitutional amendments on state ballots that concerned pensions and benefits were passed, although they aren't expected to provide much relief for pension debt problems.
Democratic incumbents in Oregon, state Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Secretary of State Kate Brown, each earned another term while North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell defeated Republican challenger Steve Royal.
The victories in Oregon could equal good news for participants in the $57.9 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, Salem. Challengers Tom Cox for treasurer and Knute Buehler for secretary of state both called for large-scale pension reviews and reform. Mr. Cox proposed a four-step reform that included placing all new state employees in a DC plan and eventually moving existing employees into the plan by freezing benefit accruals to their defined benefit plan.
Mr. Wheeler is on the Oregon Investment Council, which oversees more than $70 billion in assets, including the public employees' system. He wants the system's board to evaluate lowering its assumed rate of return of 8%.
In North Carolina, another term for Ms. Cowell allows her to continue pursuing lead-plaintiff status in a federal lawsuit against the underwriters of Facebook Inc.'s May initial public offering on behalf of the $74.5 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems, Raleigh, which she serves as sole fiduciary. In an earlier interview, Ms. Cowell said it has been a goal of hers to lend a “strong voice” against poor corporate governance practices at technology companies.
Indiana and Montana selected new governors, although each comes from the same party as their predecessors — Republican Mike Pence in Indiana and Democrat Steven Bullock in Montana. Mr. Bullock is projected to beat Republican Rick Hill - he leads 48.76% to 47.42% with 94% of precincts reporting.
Mr. Pence, who will replace Mitch Daniels, will appoint a state budget director, who also serves as ex-officio board member of the $25.7 billion Indiana Public Retirement System, Indianapolis.
Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock will complete the last two years of his term after he was defeated in his bid for U.S. senate by Democrat Joseph Donnelly. Mr. Mourdock, a Republican, oversees the $388 million Indiana State Police Pension Trust, Indianapolis, and selects a member of the INPRS board.
In Montana, Mr. Bullock supports current Gov. Brian Schweitzer's proposals to increase employer and employee contributions to shore up the state's $8.1 billion pension system. Mr. Hill proposed new employees be placed in a DC plan.