PERS unfunded liability hits all-time high $13.5 billion

Robert Fellner

The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (PERS) reported a record-breaking shortfall of $13.457 billion last month, according to data published in the System’s comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

Annual contributions likewise hit a record-high, coming in at around $1.7 billion. As a result of these record-high costs, most new members are now projected to be “net losers” under PERS — meaning the value of their future retirement benefit will be worth less than its total cost.

The report also confirms PERS continues to excel at keeping both administrative and investment fees low, with investment fees remaining flat since the previous year at around $39 million — or about 0.1% of total fund size.

While investing exclusively in index funds keeps fees low, there is a tremendous risk of future shortfalls given the System’s assumed 8 percent annual investment return — which far exceeds the projections of PERS investment consultants, other pension funds, Warren Buffett and many others.

2017 brought a significant personnel change to PERS. Longtime investment consultant Ken Lambert has chosen to move on, to be replaced by former president of Wilshire Consulting Julia Bonafede — who authored the second opinion review commissioned by PERS in 2015, which found that PERS was unlikely to hit its investment target over the next decade.

To read more about PERS, be sure to visit http://www.npri.org/issues/detail/pers

Robert Fellner

Robert Fellner

Director of Policy

Robert Fellner is NPRI’s policy director and joined the Institute in December 2013. Robert has written extensively on the issue of transparency in government. He has also conducted legal research and assisted in crafting legal arguments for numerous public records-related lawsuits, including one which prevailed at the Nevada Supreme Court, resulting in a landmark decision that protected and expanded Nevadans’ rights to access and inspect government records.

An expert on government compensation and its impact on taxes, Robert has authored multiple studies on public pay and pensions. He has been published in Business Insider, Forbes.com, the Las Vegas Review Journal, the Los Angeles Times, RealClearPolicy.com, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, ZeroHedge.com and elsewhere.

Robert has lived in Las Vegas since 2005 when he moved to Nevada to become a professional poker player. Robert has had a remarkably successfully poker career including two top 10 World Series of Poker finishes and being ranked #1 in the world at 10/20 Pot-Limit Omaha cash games.

Additionally, his economic analysis on the minimum wage won first place in a 2011 George Mason University essay contest. He also independently organized a successful grassroots media and fundraising effort for a 2012 presidential candidate, before joining the campaign in an official capacity.