Political class manipulating public employees’ pension fund statistics
Source: Star-Telegram by Max Faulkner

Two foundations closely aligned with business and Wall Street interests have stepped up attacks against public employee pension funds.

They know the legislative session is right around the corner. Lawmakers and the general public should continue to view them with suspicion.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation recently took aim at pension funds’ unfunded liabilities, a measure of benefit promises to current assets.  The TPPF sought cover of Pension Review Board reports to lump together 93 pension funds, ranging in size from $2 million to $133 billion, to produce a headline number of $61 billion in unfunded liabilities.

The size is meant to stagger, until put in proper context.

The TPPF failed to mention that 42 pension funds had decreases in those liabilities and 23 more had meager single-digit increases.  Excluding six of the largest state and local pension funds, the total increase for the 87 remaining systems amounted to only $39 million, which is hardly an unmanageable figure.

In fact, considering their billions in combined assets, it is miniscule.

Nor did the report include calculations for latest investment returns, most of which will be positive for a good stock market year in 2016. Those returns will not be in Pension Review Board stats until early 2017.