Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

03/18/2009 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
03:20:35 PM Start
03:20:58 PM HB30
05:14:12 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 30-REPEAL DEFINED CONTRIB RETIREMENT PLANS                                                                                 
3:20:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  announced that  the only order  of business  would be                                                              
HOUSE  BILL NO.  30, "An  Act repealing  the defined  contribution                                                              
retirement   plans  for   teachers  and   for  public   employees;                                                              
providing  a defined  benefit  retirement  plan for  teachers  and                                                              
public  employees;  making conforming  amendments;  and  providing                                                              
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHN HARRIS, Alaska  State Legislature,  offered a                                                              
brief overview  of HB  30.  He  stated that HB  30 relates  to the                                                              
defined  contribution   (DC)  retirement  system   versus  defined                                                              
benefit   (DB)  retirement   system   for   state  and   municipal                                                              
employees,  teachers,  and others  in  the  system.   He  recalled                                                              
state   employees  historically   have  had   a  defined   benefit                                                              
retirement  plan (DB).    A few  years  ago the  legislature  took                                                              
action to  change to  a Tier IV,  defined contribution  retirement                                                              
plan (DC).  Thus,  all new legislators and state  employees are on                                                              
a DC  plan.   He  opined that  the state  reviewed its  retirement                                                              
plans,  held much debate,  and voted  to support  a DC  retirement                                                              
3:24:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS  identified one reason that  the legislature                                                              
voted for  a different retirement  system was that state  debt for                                                              
the system  could not  be repaid  and the  state was accruing  too                                                              
much  debt.   He  related  that  HB  30 was  introduced  to  begin                                                              
dialogue  again.    He recalled  that  the  governor  made  strong                                                              
statements  against the  DC plan.   He  related his  understanding                                                              
that the  governor is interested  in HB 30.   He said he  hopes to                                                              
have the  administration involved  in the process  and anticipates                                                              
that reviewing the retirement plan will be a two-year process.                                                                  
3:26:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HARRIS said  that  he would  like honest  dialogue                                                              
about  which system  is best for  the state  and state  employees.                                                              
He opined  that this  is a  big issue  and relates to  recruitment                                                              
issues  as  well  as  how  to  retain   employees.    He  said  he                                                              
anticipates that  the Alaska State  Trooper management  and unions                                                              
may also  discuss issues  they have  had.  He  said he  also hopes                                                              
the  committee  will give  the  bill  serious consideration.    He                                                              
indicated  Representative Seaton  is present  and was involved  in                                                              
the details  of the issues of  DC plan versus the  defined benefit                                                              
plan and welcomed his expertise.                                                                                                
3:27:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  recalled the governor discussed  this issue                                                              
during the  campaign.   He inquired  as to whether  Representative                                                              
Harris has personally  held conversations with  the administration                                                              
on HB 30.                                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS  offered that he  has made overtures  to the                                                              
Commissioner  of  Department of  Administration.    Thus far,  the                                                              
official position  is the department  will examine the issue.   He                                                              
related  his understanding  some  unofficial  views  are that  the                                                              
Department  of  Administration   (DOA)  commissioner  is  not  too                                                              
excited  about the  bill, but  understood  others in  the DOA  are                                                              
more supportive.                                                                                                                
3:30:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CATHY  MUNOZ, Alaska State Legislature,  introduced                                                              
her  staff, Kendra  Kloster.   She stated  that HB  30 does  three                                                              
things.   First, it  would return  the retirement  system to  a DB                                                              
system.   Next, it  would provide  a time  certain for  current DC                                                              
employees  to  opt  into  the  new  system.    Finally,  it  would                                                              
preserve  the  Alaska  Retirement  Management Board  (ARM).    She                                                              
mentioned  that  when the  Teachers  Retirement System  (TRS)  and                                                              
Public Employees  Retirement System  (PERS) boards were  dissolved                                                              
in  2005  with  the  passage  of   Senate  Bill  141,  the  Alaska                                                              
Retirement  Management Board  (ARM) was established.   She  opined                                                              
that the  process for  the new retirement  system was  incomplete.                                                              
She surmised  that conflicting  information  made it difficult  to                                                              
make  a good  decision and  legislators were  pressured to  finish                                                              
the  job.   She  acknowledged  that  considering  the bill  was  a                                                              
difficult  process  and  she  would  probably  not  have  had  any                                                              
additional  insight.    However,  she  further  opined  the  issue                                                              
remains  unresolved  and  until the  legislature  can  effectively                                                              
respond  to   its  constituencies,  the  retirement   system  will                                                              
continue to  be a litmus test  for candidates.  Meanwhile,  at all                                                              
levels of  government dissatisfaction  remains, yet  Alaskans rely                                                              
on  the   work  of  teachers,   firefighters,  and   other  public                                                              
servants.   She offered  current statistics  such that  73,000 are                                                              
members of  the PERS and  TRS systems and  11,600 are  enrolled in                                                              
the new  DC system.   She  related that  many of her  constituents                                                              
are members of these retirement systems.                                                                                        
3:33:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ related  that she  has heard  many of  their                                                              
stories.    She offered  that  young  teachers have  shared  their                                                              
401(k) reports  and the depressing  results.  When  these teachers                                                              
extrapolate  what they  might earn  at retirement  time, they  are                                                              
uncertain about  their future.  Without social  security benefits,                                                              
government  workers  face a  very  uncertain future,  she  opined.                                                              
She  related  that  their  stories motivated  her  to  attempt  to                                                              
restore  a more reliable  pension  system.  In  2005, the  state's                                                              
unfunded liability  led to  a change in  the retirement  system as                                                              
well as  concern for  rising costs across  the country.   However,                                                              
the state's  unfunded liability  is not a  function of  which type                                                              
of retirement  plan is  in place.   Instead, the state's  unfunded                                                              
liability is  a result  of it not  making adequate investments  in                                                              
the retirement  plan.   She surmised that  during the  1990s gross                                                              
miscalculations were  made for the amount of  funding necessary to                                                              
fund  the state  employees' retirement  systems.   Over time,  she                                                              
related, the state's unfunded liability has escalated.                                                                          
3:34:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ offered  her  belief that  one far  reaching                                                              
aspect  of Senate  Bill  141  came to  light  after  the bill  was                                                              
signed into  law.   She explained  at two  ARM Board meetings  the                                                              
longtime investment  consultant told the  board that since  the DB                                                              
plans  were  essentially closed,  very  soon  the rate  of  return                                                              
assumption  would  need to  be  reduced  as the  asset  allocation                                                              
investments  will need  to  be geared  toward  more liquidity  and                                                              
less towards volatility.   She opined that a lower  rate of return                                                              
on investments will  impact the state's unfunded  liability due to                                                              
the DC retirement  plans for state employees.   She mentioned that                                                              
in  2005 the  debate  on Senate  Bill  141 surrounded  the  higher                                                              
costs of  the state's  Tier I  retirement plan.   She  pointed out                                                              
that the  system had changed  to a Tier  III retirement  plan well                                                              
before  2005.    She offered  that  West  Virginia  faced  similar                                                              
issues.    She  highlighted  that  due  to  its  state's  unfunded                                                              
liability of  approximately $5 billion  West Virginia  (WV) closed                                                              
its DB  retirement plan in  1991 and switched  to a  DC retirement                                                              
system.     Representative   Munoz   stressed   like  Alaska,   WV                                                              
supporters expected  the state's  unfunded liability  to diminish.                                                              
However,  twelve years  later, in  2003,  WV's unfunded  liability                                                              
continued  to grow  and 70  percent of  retirees had  insufficient                                                              
retirement  funds.    By  2007, the  average  annual  returns  for                                                              
teachers  in the  plan trailed  similar  DB plans  by 69  percent.                                                              
She  concluded  by   stating  the  greatest  advantage   of  a  DB                                                              
retirement  system is  the opportunity  to pool  risks.  In  doing                                                              
so, investments  can be  calculated to  ensure all retirees  would                                                              
receive a  monthly pension.   She acknowledged retiree  life spans                                                              
are uncertain.   Thus,  the beauty  of a  DB retirement  system is                                                              
that employees  do not  need to save  as if they  will live  to be                                                              
100  years old.   Instead,  employees'  risk is  pooled among  all                                                              
retirees and new  hires provide the best source of  cash flow, she                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ emphasized  that the  current DC  retirement                                                              
plan is  the single  issue most often  raised during  her campaign                                                              
and  is the  reason she  introduced the  bill.   She said,  "After                                                              
hearing many  personal accounts,  I am convinced  it is  the right                                                              
thing to do."                                                                                                                   
3:38:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  recalled the discussion  to change to  a DC                                                              
plan.   He said, "It was  a long hard  bloody fight."   He further                                                              
recalled  that the state  was facing  a $16  billion debt  and the                                                              
legislature  needed  to  "stop  the bleeding."    He  related  his                                                              
understanding  that with  guaranteed benefits  under the  DB plan,                                                              
the state must pay  the costs.  He offered his  belief that nobody                                                              
in the  private sector  must do  so.  He  highlighted that  as the                                                              
state  made  reductions in  employee  benefits  such that  it  has                                                              
moved from  Tier I to  Tier IV retirement  plans.  He  inquired as                                                              
to whether the state should guarantee payments.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE   MUNOZ  answered   that  the  legislature   should                                                              
perform  an analysis  between  the Tier  III  and DC  plans.   The                                                              
analysis  needs  to be  performed  since it  is  hard  to rely  on                                                              
information   currently   available    or   on   the   information                                                              
legislators received  at the time the decision was  made to change                                                              
to a DC retirement plan.                                                                                                        
3:41:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  remarked  that  the  legislature  reviewed                                                              
analysis during  the month  long special session  it spent  on the                                                              
issue.   He referred  to a  study completed  by the University  of                                                              
Alaska  Anchorage,  Institute  of  Social  and  Economic  Research                                                              
(ISER)  that identified  salaries  and  benefits  were the  number                                                              
five reason  why teachers did not  stay in rural communities.   He                                                              
recalled the  quality of life and  similar items ranked  higher in                                                              
the study.   He recalled one argument  for a DB plan  was that the                                                              
state cannot attract  employees due to the retirement  system.  He                                                              
opined that he does  not agree with that statement  since the ISER                                                              
studies did not support this.                                                                                                   
3:43:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ  recalled   a  recent  conversation  with  a                                                              
Department   of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities   (DOT&PF)                                                              
engineer  who stated the  current combined  salary and  retirement                                                              
benefits  package could  not attract  engineers  to fill  critical                                                              
positions.   She  related  that  the DC  plan  was implemented  in                                                              
2005.   Thus, only three  years has lapsed  so it is  difficult to                                                              
assess   the  issue   of  attracting   and  retaining   employees.                                                              
However,  she  related  her understanding  from  discussions  with                                                              
various  departments  that they  have  difficulty  in filling  job                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE   NEUMAN  referred  to   the  state's   policy  for                                                              
rehiring public employee  retirees.  He opined the  policy did not                                                              
seem  to be  a  good policy  in  terms of  "building  a bench"  by                                                              
promoting lower  level employees.   He  indicated that  people who                                                              
retired were rehired  to do the same job but did  not pay into the                                                              
retirement  system.  Thus,  the practice  compounded the  problems                                                              
since  the  workforce   stayed  at  the  same   level,  but  fewer                                                              
employees paid into the system.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ responded  that the  DB system  is a  closed                                                              
plan, so  new enrollees  do not  contribute to the  DB plan.   She                                                              
opined  this  causes  the  state's   unfunded  liability  rate  to                                                              
increase  since the  expected  rate of  return  on the  retirement                                                              
plan investment  is reduced.  She  related the current  rate is an                                                              
expected  rate of  8.25  percent over  the  last 10  to 20  years.                                                              
However, the  expected rate  will be reduced  since the  ARM board                                                              
will  be   compelled  to   invest  in   more  liquid   and  stable                                                              
investments.    She  emphasized  that  will  add  to  the  state's                                                              
unfunded  liability.   She highlighted  that is  one problem  with                                                              
the current system.                                                                                                             
3:46:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN inquired  as  to whether  rehiring  retired                                                              
public employees creates a problem for the retirement system.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ  indicated  she  had been  speaking  to  the                                                              
issue  of not  having  new enrollees  paying  into the  plan.   In                                                              
further response  to Representative  Neuman, Representative  Munoz                                                              
offered to contemplate rehires and she offered to comment later.                                                                
3:47:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  recalled hearing that if the  state were to                                                              
revert  to   the  Tier  III   retirement  system,   the  automatic                                                              
implication  would  be  that  an  employer  contribution  will  be                                                              
deposited  into the employee's  retirement  system.  He  described                                                              
his wife's  experience  as a union  employee  for the United  Food                                                              
and  Commercial Workers  International  Union (UFCW).   He  stated                                                              
that she  receives  a paycheck but  funds are  not contributed  to                                                              
her retirement system.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ offered  her  belief that  the  DB plan  has                                                              
"lost steam"  but not  as much as  the DC plan.   She  related her                                                              
understanding that  the DC losses  were approximately  30 percent,                                                              
whereas the DB plan losses were about 20 percent.                                                                               
3:49:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  pointed out  that employees  affected by  the state's                                                              
retirement  plans  represent  approximately   25  percent  of  the                                                              
workforce in  the state.   He related  his understanding  that the                                                              
remaining  75  percent  of  Alaska's   employees  have  individual                                                              
retirement  accounts (IRAs), Simplified  Employee Pensions  (SEPs)                                                              
plans,  or have  no retirement  plan  at all.    He mentioned  the                                                              
state  does not  have a  state sales  or  income tax  either.   He                                                              
opined the  state has saved over  $200 million since  switching to                                                              
the DC  plan.   He offered  his belief  that the state's  unfunded                                                              
liability was  also reduced  to $7.5 billion.   He further  opined                                                              
that  in order  to  reduce  the  state's unfunded  liability,  the                                                              
state would  need to use general  fund dollars.  He  recalled that                                                              
$550  million  has  been  appropriated.     However,  the  state's                                                              
unfunded liability  has continued  to rise to approximately  $10.5                                                              
to  $11 billion.   He  reiterated that  the plan  applies to  less                                                              
than 25  percent of the state's  workforce, which is  a relatively                                                              
small segment of the workforce.                                                                                                 
CHAIR   OLSON  recalled   a  discussion   with  local   government                                                              
officials in  his district, who  indicated that they have  not had                                                              
problems filling  job vacancies or positions under  the current DC                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ responded  that as  the employer, the  state                                                              
must  consider  issues which  pertain  to  state employees.    She                                                              
mentioned  that state  employees  do not  receive social  security                                                              
benefits,  although   private  sector  businesses   pay  into  the                                                              
federal  social   security  system.    In  "looking   at  the  big                                                              
picture," the  goal should be to  provide a state  retirement plan                                                              
that is predictable.   She stated  that HB 30 is the  top priority                                                              
of public  employee groups  in her district,  which is  the reason                                                              
she has sponsored the bill.                                                                                                     
3:53:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  opined that  if he  were a Tier  II employee  who had                                                              
missed  opting  into  Tier  I  retirement  benefits  he  would  be                                                              
concerned  as a Tier  IV public  employee who  missed opting  into                                                              
Tier III  retirement  benefits.   He remarked  that the state  has                                                              
changed its  system approximately  every ten years,  although Tier                                                              
I retirement  system was in place  about 26 years before  the Tier                                                              
II  retirement plan  was  adopted.   He  further  opined that  the                                                              
reasons for the  changes to the state's retirement  system were to                                                              
keep the system  competitive and to save money for  the state.  He                                                              
indicated that  his vote on Senate  Bill 141 was the  hardest vote                                                              
he has made as a legislator.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  said, "I  said  go, go,  go.   Keep  defined                                                              
3:54:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ  said  she appreciated  the  difficulty  for                                                              
legislators  when  considering   the  DC  retirement  plan.    She                                                              
remarked that  she is  not trying  to be critical.   She  said she                                                              
was not  a member of  the legislature in  2005 and  cannot predict                                                              
how she  would have  reacted.   She said,  "I do  not think  given                                                              
what we  know today,  that it  was the  right thing  to do  at the                                                              
3:54:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN related that  the vote  on Senate  Bill 141                                                              
also predates  his service  to the state.   He offered  his belief                                                              
that  cost needs  to  be considered  when  attempting to  evaluate                                                              
retirement  systems.   He  related  his understanding  that  would                                                              
require  analysis  of  the  relative cost  of  the  DB  retirement                                                              
system which  is Tier III for  the PERS and  Tier II for TRS.   It                                                              
would  also  require  evaluating  current  DC  retirement  system,                                                              
which is Tier  IV for PERS and  Tier III for TRS.   He inquired as                                                              
to whether any such evaluation has been conducted.                                                                              
3:56:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ recalled  employer  statistics  but she  did                                                              
not recall that  any in-depth analysis was performed.   She agreed                                                              
that such  analyses  would assist  the state  to make an  informed                                                              
decision of  whether to reopen  and reestablish the  DB retirement                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN related  his  understanding  that it  would                                                              
also be helpful  to determine whether more people  are leaving the                                                              
state, and  if it is harder to  obtain new employees under  the DC                                                              
plan.  He said  he hopes the legislature will have  access to that                                                              
information.   He opined that any  retirement system is  a balance                                                              
between  what  it  will cost  the  employer,  and  the  employment                                                              
effects.  He surmised there would also be other considerations.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ agreed  that a  number of  issues should  be                                                              
analyzed and incorporated  into an accurate study,  such as direct                                                              
and indirect costs.                                                                                                             
3:58:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON recalled  discussions  with the  administration on  a                                                              
number  of  occasions and  offered  his  belief that  he  received                                                              
accurate answers.   Currently the administration has  not taken an                                                              
official  position on  the issue.   He opined  that several  years                                                              
ago  the administration  actively  pushed in  one  direction.   He                                                              
observed that this administration has been more consensual.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   MUNOZ  commented  that   she  did  not   mean  to                                                              
disparage the  current administration.   She simply would  like to                                                              
"see those  numbers and  that analysis,"  which she related  would                                                              
be very helpful.                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON  referred   members  to  a  one-page   analysis  from                                                              
Legislative  Research  in  the  committee  packets  which  provide                                                              
information from the administration.                                                                                            
3:59:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PAUL  SEATON,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  agreed                                                              
that  he would  also  like  to see  the  analysis  performed.   He                                                              
opined one  reason the system was  changed was that the  state was                                                              
not  able to  fill vacant  positions such  as electrical  workers,                                                              
special education,  or other  teachers under  Tier III  retirement                                                              
plan.  He  related that is  still the current complaint,  and some                                                              
suggest reverting back  to Tier III retirement plan  will cure the                                                              
problem.    He  affirmed  that research  would  be  helpful.    He                                                              
inquired as  to whether  new employees  represent the  best choice                                                              
of cash flow for the state.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  clarified the rate of return  on investments                                                              
by the ARM  board is currently about  8.25 percent.  Since  the DB                                                              
plan  is a  closed  plan,  the expected  rate  of  return will  be                                                              
reduced  over  time  to  about 6  percent.    She  speculated  the                                                              
difference  will  be significant,  perhaps  more  than $1  billion                                                              
dollars will be added to the state's unfunded liability.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON said  he was  relieved that  the state  was                                                              
not asking  its employees to move  to the federal  social security                                                              
system.   He  recalled that  during consideration  of Senate  Bill                                                              
141  in 2005,  the state  hired Mercer  Human Resource  Consulting                                                              
(Mercer),  followed  by  Buck  Consultants  (Buck).    He  further                                                              
recalled  both consultants  analyzed  an alternative  method.   He                                                              
stated the most  recent predictions are that  the state's unfunded                                                              
liability  was probably  even larger  than either  Mercer or  Buck                                                              
had predicted.   He offered his belief that the  legislature tried                                                              
to obtain  accurate analysis.  He  recalled that at  8.25 percent,                                                              
the  projections were  $30 billion  to pay  scheduled payments  of                                                              
$45.5  billion,  which  left  us at  $15.6  billion  of  scheduled                                                              
payments.   He stated  that some  question exists about  returning                                                              
to  the  prior  retirement  system that  would  create  new  state                                                              
unfunded  liability.  He  opined that  if the  only way  to reduce                                                              
the  unfunded liabilities  would  be  general fund  dollars,  that                                                              
would impact  future budgets.   He inquired  as to how  to balance                                                              
consideration  of  the  retirement  system with  the  prospect  of                                                              
unfunded liabilities with other important needs of Alaskans.                                                                    
4:03:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ  offered  her belief  the  state's  unfunded                                                              
liability is  not a direct function of  whether it has a  DC or DB                                                              
retirement system.   Instead, the state's unfunded  liability is a                                                              
direct  function  of  investing  the  amount  recommended  by  the                                                              
actuaries into the  state's retirement plan.  She  reiterated that                                                              
the  rate of  return  on  closed plans  will  add  to the  state's                                                              
unfunded  liability.   She recalled  that West  Virginia (WV)  was                                                              
compelled to go back  to a DB plan.  She further  recalled that WV                                                              
did not reduce its  unfunded liability under a DC  plan.  Instead,                                                              
WV's unfunded  liability continued to  worsen.  She opined  that a                                                              
DB retirement plan  is not directly linked with  increased state's                                                              
unfunded liability.   She maintained  her belief that  funding the                                                              
DB retirement plan  means investing the proper  amount recommended                                                              
by the actuaries into the retirement plan.                                                                                      
4:04:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  recalled  stock market  fluctuations  only                                                              
amounted  to 11 percent  of the  state's unfunded  liability.   He                                                              
surmised  that   the  major  portion   of  the  state's   unfunded                                                              
liability  is due  to people  living  longer.   Thus, health  care                                                              
costs subsequently  increase, which he recalled was  the source of                                                              
the  56 percent  of the  state's  unfunded liability.   He  opined                                                              
that  the  DB system  is  exclusively  the  cause of  the  state's                                                              
unfunded liability.   He related that under a DB  system the state                                                              
guarantees to  pay a certain amount,  regardless of the  cost, and                                                              
burgeoning  health   care  costs  add  to  the   state's  unfunded                                                              
liability.  He related  that when people live longer,  the DB plan                                                              
continues  to  pay  out retirement  benefits  to  retirees,  which                                                              
increases the state's  unfunded liability.  He  offered that under                                                              
a  DC plan  a specific  amount is  contributed,  which limits  the                                                              
unfunded  liability.   He  emphasized  that the  state's  unfunded                                                              
liability  is exclusively  the result of  a DB  plan, in  fact, is                                                              
the definition of defined benefits.                                                                                             
4:07:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  stated   that  the  ARM  board  relies  on                                                              
structured  investment  advice.   The  majority  of PERS  and  TRS                                                              
Boards  cases represented  the  adjudication  of  challenges.   He                                                              
inquired  as to how  the current  investment  board will spend  80                                                              
percent of  its time on PERS  and TRS claims  since qualifications                                                              
for the ARM board do not provide that expertise.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ  opined  that   the  current  ARM  Board  is                                                              
working  well,  which is  one  of  the  most positive  results  of                                                              
Senate  Bill  141.    She  related   her  understanding  that  the                                                              
Department  of  Revenue  commissioner  is  also  involved  in  the                                                              
appeals process.   She said she  cannot answer the  specifics, but                                                              
offered to  provide the  information later.   She further  related                                                              
her  understanding   that   all  parties   seem  happy  with   the                                                              
4:08:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH   said  he  welcomes  discussions   on  these                                                              
issues.   He  opined  that a  major  component  of the  retirement                                                              
system issue  is the employer contribution  rate.  He  recalled in                                                              
the  early 1990s,  changes were  made  to employer  contributions.                                                              
He said  that he  agrees with  Representative Seaton's  assessment                                                              
of  the  task  before  the  legislature.     He  related  his  own                                                              
retirement  plan eliminated  health  care benefits.   He  recalled                                                              
that  every  state has  suffered,  driven  by health  care  costs,                                                              
which he  characterized as divisive.   He stated when  people turn                                                              
65  years  old  they  are  mandated  to  use  Medicare,  which  is                                                              
essentially socialized  medicine.   He further opined  the current                                                              
health care  system needs  to be  revamped.   He related  that the                                                              
process of  evaluating retirement benefits  will likely be  a long                                                              
endeavor and he offered to "roll up his sleeves."                                                                               
4:11:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DOOGAN  offered his belief  that the state  has two                                                              
roles,  one as  the  payer and  the  other as  the  employer.   He                                                              
offered that  the two roles may  be in conflict.  He  related that                                                              
one goal  of this  committee should  be to  bring those  two roles                                                              
into  alignment  to the  extent  possible.    He pointed  out  his                                                              
discovery  does  not  persuade him  one  way  or  the other.    He                                                              
recalled someone  once said the  most difficult decisions  are not                                                              
between a right and a wrong but between two rights.                                                                             
4:12:35 PM                                                                                                                    
ILANA  BOIVIE, Policy  Analyst, National  Institute on  Retirement                                                              
Security (NIRS),  stated that  she hopes  the committee  finds the                                                              
NIRS research  helpful.  She  referred to a PowerPoint  previously                                                              
distributed  to  the  committee   labeled  "Pensionomics"  and  "A                                                              
Better  Bang for  the Buck".   She  explained that  the first  few                                                              
slides provide  background information on  the NIRS.   She related                                                              
that "pensionomics"  refers  to measuring  the economic impact  of                                                              
state and local pension plans.                                                                                                  
MS. BOIVIE  referred to slide 5,  labeled "Why we did  This Study"                                                              
and  related  that  the  NIRS  wanted  to  measure  the  "economic                                                              
footprint" of state  and local pension plans to  quantify how much                                                              
and  where  pension benefit  expenditures  make  an impact.    She                                                              
related that  economists know  defined benefit  (DB) plans  act as                                                              
an "automatic  stabilizer" for  the economy.   She explained  that                                                              
retirees with a  reliable pension can maintain  spending for basic                                                              
needs even in tough  economic times.  Thus, the  report provides a                                                              
sense of stabilizing  effect state and local pensions  may have on                                                              
the U.S. economy.                                                                                                               
MS.  BOIVIE  explained  the report  compiled  state-by-state  data                                                              
compiled in  state fact sheets.   She reviewed NIRS's  findings in                                                              
Alaska,  and  referred  to  slide  6,  titled  "What  We  Found  -                                                              
Nationally".    She  stated  the NIRS  found  a  large  footprint,                                                              
specifically  in  2006,  when  expenditures  of  state  and  local                                                              
retirement  benefits supported  2.5 million  jobs nationwide  that                                                              
paid  $92  billion  in income  which  supported  $358  billion  in                                                              
economic  output  with  $186  billion  in  "value-added"  and  $57                                                              
billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue.                                                                               
MS. BOVIE  referred to slide 7,  titled "What We Found  - Alaska".                                                              
She  related in  2006, retirement  benefits  supported 6,270  jobs                                                              
that paid  $385 million in income,  $1 billion in  economic output                                                              
statewide,  and $155  million  in federal,  state,  and local  tax                                                              
revenue.  She  explained Alaska also had a  significant multiplier                                                              
effect,  such that  for every  $1 paid  out in  benefits $1.25  in                                                              
total output  was generated.  For  every $1 contributed  by Alaska                                                              
taxpayers to pensions, $6.35 in economic output was generated.                                                                  
MS. BOIVIE  referred to  slide 10, titled  "Overview of  State and                                                              
Local   DB  Pensions   in   Alaska"  which   provides   background                                                              
information.   She  referred  to slide  11,  titled "Financing  of                                                              
State  and  Local  Pension  Plans   in  Alaska"  demonstrates  the                                                              
funding sources for  Alaska's pension plans.  She  offered that 82                                                              
percent  is   garnered  from  investment  earnings   and  employer                                                              
contributions made  between 1993 and  2006.  She pointed  out that                                                              
the chart demonstrates  investment earnings which  provided nearly                                                              
70 percent of the retirement benefits.                                                                                          
MS. BOIVIE  referred to slide 15,  titled "Alaska Results:   Total                                                              
Economic  Impact".    She  opined that  purchases  have  a  ripple                                                              
effect  through  the state's  economy,  so one  person's  spending                                                              
becomes   another  person's   income,   which   is  magnified   by                                                              
subsequent  expenditures.    She  referred  to  slide  21,  titled                                                              
"Conclusions".   She related  that state  and local pension  plans                                                              
have  a large  economic footprint  in the  U.S. and  Alaska.   She                                                              
reiterated that  state and local pensions have  significant ripple                                                              
effects  such   that  one   retiree's  spending  becomes   another                                                              
person's  income.    She  further  opined  that  state  and  local                                                              
pensions have sizeable multipliers.                                                                                             
MS. BOIVIE referred  to slide 22, also titled  "Conclusions".  She                                                              
stated that  state and  local pensions  provide a critical  source                                                              
of reliable  income for 7.3  million retired Americans  and 35,000                                                              
retired  Alaskans.    She emphasized  that  pensions  support  the                                                              
macro  economy and  support 6,270  Alaskan jobs,  $358 billion  in                                                              
national  activity, and $1  billion in  Alaska economic  benefits.                                                              
She  opined  that  pensions  are   "automatic  stabilizers"  since                                                              
retirees spend  money on basic needs  whereas people in  a 401 (k)                                                              
plan defer their  spending.  Thus, the retirees  tend to stabilize                                                              
the economy  and act  as a stimulus  during tough economic  times,                                                              
she concluded.                                                                                                                  
4:18:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BOIVIE explained  that the second part of the  study is titled                                                              
"A  Bigger Bang  for  the Buck".   She  recalled  claims that  "DC                                                              
plans save  money."  She offered  that the NIRS wanted  to address                                                              
the claim by  evaluating retirement benefits costs for  the DB and                                                              
DC  plans.   She explained  that the  NIRS worked  with a  pension                                                              
actuary  and performed  an "apples  to apples"  comparison of  the                                                              
two plans for any given benefit level.                                                                                          
MS.  BOIVIE  referred to  slide  26,  titled  "Results:   What  We                                                              
Found".   The NIRS determined  that the  DB approach is  more cost                                                              
effective than the  DC approach for three reasons.   First, the DB                                                              
pension pools  longevity risks so that  the plan can save  for the                                                              
average  life  expectancy.     Secondly,  the  DB   pension  plans                                                              
maintain a  better diversified portfolio  and do not need  to make                                                              
more   conservative  investments.     Third,   DB  pension   plans                                                              
consistently achieve better investment returns.                                                                                 
MS.  BOIVIE referred  to slide  27,  titled "DB  Plan Can  Deliver                                                              
Same Benefit  at About  Half the  Cost of DC  Plan".   She pointed                                                              
out that  the chart demonstrates the  DB plan offers a  46 percent                                                              
savings over  the DC plan.  She  referred to slide 28,  titled "DB                                                              
Plan  Can Do  More with  Less" which  is  for members'  reference.                                                              
She  concluded  by stating  the  DB  plan  has built  in  economic                                                              
efficiencies and  provides a "better  bang for the buck"  in terms                                                              
of savings  for taxpayers.   She highlighted that  clearly cutting                                                              
employee benefit  levels will  always save  money, no  matter what                                                              
retirement system  is used.   However, this  study shows  that for                                                              
any given  benefit level, the DB  plan is the most  cost efficient                                                              
retirement plan.                                                                                                                
4:20:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON referred  to slide  27.   He remarked  that                                                              
the   slide   states  "Less   Balanced   Performance   and   Lower                                                              
Returns/Higher  Fees".    He  inquired  as  to  whether  the  NIRS                                                              
reviewed  the Alaska  retirement  system or  DC  plans in  general                                                              
such  as a  401  (k)  or another  plan  that allows  employees  to                                                              
direct their own investments.                                                                                                   
MS. BOIVIE  recalled  that the NIRS  used their  own scenario  and                                                              
models for both  the DB and DC  plans.  She referred  to slide 29,                                                              
titled "Methodology:   What We Did" and stated that  the model was                                                              
based on a scenario  in which 1,000 female teachers  worked for 30                                                              
years and using a final salary of $50,000.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON recalled several  analyses that  examined a                                                              
DC plan  and the  historic lesser  return rates.   He  pointed out                                                              
that in Alaska  a person cannot invest their  own retirement funds                                                              
but  must  choose between  professionally  managed  accounts  with                                                              
different  methodologies.   He  reiterated  that Alaskan  retirees                                                              
cannot direct their  own portfolio.  He related  his understanding                                                              
that the  DC plans  were much lower.   He  inquired as  to whether                                                              
the  NIRS   reviewed  historic   views  of   all  DC   plans,  not                                                              
professionally  managed   account,  but  only   portfolio  managed                                                              
4:22:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BOIVIE  recalled that the NIRS  used a difference of  80 basis                                                              
points or  approximately  .8 percent per  year, which  represented                                                              
the  lower end  of the  spectrum.   She  explained  that the  NIRS                                                              
performed  a brief  review of  estimates  ranging from  80 to  200                                                              
basis  points.    Thus,  the NIRS  selected  the  lower  range  of                                                              
estimates to arrive  at the difference between the  returns for DB                                                              
and DC plans.   She noted with  interest that the DC  accounts are                                                              
professionally managed  in Alaska.  She affirmed that  it would be                                                              
interesting to  do a study solely  in Alaska.  She  countered that                                                              
professional   management  may   still  not   take  advantage   of                                                              
economies of scale  the DB plan would achieve,  such as investment                                                              
opportunities  that  very large  pools  of  funds have  access  to                                                              
which are  not likely to be  available to smaller investors.   She                                                              
surmised that the  gap would likely be much smaller,  but she said                                                              
she imagined a gap might still exist.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON inquired  as to whether  the DB  plan takes                                                              
into  account  state's unfunded  liability.    He inquired  as  to                                                              
whether  the  scenario  assumed  contributions were  made  at  the                                                              
appropriate  level, but pointed  out that  would also  change when                                                              
circumstances change.   He inquired as to whether  he was "missing                                                              
MS.  BOIVIE  agreed  the  model  was an  idealized  view  of  both                                                              
structures.  She  explained that for the DB plan,  NIRS arrived at                                                              
the  12.5  percent  payroll  but  did  not  differentiate  between                                                              
contributions  made  by the  employer  or  the employee  and  also                                                              
assumed deposits were  consistently made.  The analysis  of the DC                                                              
cost  of 22.9  percent did  not consider  any unfunded  liability.                                                              
She offered  that consideration  of unfunded liability  was beyond                                                              
the  scope  of the  study.    She  said,  "It's kind  of  like  an                                                              
idealized setting.   Everyone's  going to  get to that  retirement                                                              
level,  but how  much does  it take  to  get them  there, year  to                                                              
CHAIR OLSON responded, "I think that's the big question."                                                                       
4:26:04 PM                                                                                                                    
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative  Cathy Munoz,  Alaska State                                                              
Legislature,  speaking on behalf  of a joint  prime sponsor  of HB
30, Representative  Cathy Munoz,  referred to the  Buck consultant                                                              
letter  dated  February  12,  2009,  which  compares  the  state's                                                              
defined benefit  plan and  DC plan.   She referred  to page  1, to                                                              
employer's contributions.   She related that the costs  for the DB                                                              
plan for Tier III  were 10.95 percent, while the  costs for the DC                                                              
plan were  9.23 percent.   Thus,  the DB  plan costs were  higher.                                                              
She referred  to page 2,  and related the  TRS costs under  the DB                                                              
plan were 8.96 percent,  but under the DC plan  were 11.4 percent.                                                              
Thus,   the   overall   pension    plan   employer   contributions                                                              
differences  were less  than one  percent  between the  retirement                                                              
plans.   She  emphasized  that this  data  was  derived from  Buck                                                              
Consultants, but  the administration has reviewed  the information                                                              
and agreed  with the  analysis.   She related  that she  would not                                                              
review the  sectional analysis  of HB 30,  since most  members are                                                              
familiar with the bill.                                                                                                         
4:29:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON   referred  to   page   1   of  the   Buck                                                              
Consultant's  letter  dated  February  12,  2009 to  the  DB  plan                                                              
employer  normal  cost  rate contribution  rate  of  approximately                                                              
three  percent.   He inquired  as to  whether this  refers to  the                                                              
average cost.   He opined that  means a five  percent contribution                                                              
could  be  made  into  the  health  reimbursement  account  (HRA),                                                              
depending  on   where  the  employee   is  in  terms   of  his/her                                                              
longevity.    Thus, the  average  overall  amount would  be  three                                                              
percent.    However,   he  recalled  that  federal   law  requires                                                              
everyone to be treated  the same.  He surmised  that new employees                                                              
would initially  receive almost  five percent  in their  HRA which                                                              
will grow over time and have a much greater effect.                                                                             
4:31:17 PM                                                                                                                    
LARRY SEMMENS,  City Manager, City  of Soldotna, provided  a brief                                                              
work  history,  offered that  he  previously  served as  the  city                                                              
manager for  eight months,  was the finance  director for  City of                                                              
Kenai  for 12  years,  and held  various  other  positions in  the                                                              
finance department  at the  Kenai Peninsula  Borough.   He offered                                                              
that  he served  as a  trustee  of the  ARM  Board, but  due to  a                                                              
technicality,  he is  no longer  eligible to  serve.  He  lamented                                                              
that  he can no  longer serve  on the  ARM board,  which he  found                                                              
very  rewarding.   He indicated  that he  has extensive  knowledge                                                              
PERS and  TRS retirement  systems and is  also a certified  public                                                              
accountant   (CPA).     He  read   from   a  prepared   statement,                                                              
occasionally providing additional comments.  He said:                                                                           
     My name  is Larry Semmens and  I am the City  Manager of                                                                   
     the  City of  Soldotna.   I was  also a  Trustee on  the                                                                   
     Alaska Retirement  Management Board for the  first three                                                                   
     years  of  its  existence   and  have  fairly  extensive                                                                   
     knowledge  of PERS  and TRS  issues.  I  am a  certified                                                                   
     public  accountant  with  over 25  years  experience  in                                                                   
     local government in Alaska.                                                                                                
     I  am  against  repealing  the  pension  plans  commonly                                                                   
     known as the  'defined contribution plans' PERS  tier IV                                                                   
     and TRS  tier III,  which were  effective July 1,  2006.                                                                   
     I will  refer to  these plans  as the  DC plans, but  in                                                                   
     reality  these plans  are blended plans  that have  both                                                                   
     defined contribution and defined benefits attributes.                                                                      
4:33:14 PM                                                                                                                    
     MR. SEMMENS continued:                                                                                                     
     I want to say  upfront that the City of  Soldotna is not                                                                   
     having problems  hiring or retaining personnel  with the                                                                   
     current Tier  IV retirement plan.   Since implementation                                                                   
     we  have  successfully hired  several  police  officers,                                                                   
     both    inexperienced   and    experienced,    equipment                                                                   
     operators,  and office  personnel.   The vacancies  were                                                                   
     created primarily from retirements.                                                                                        
4:34:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SEMMENS, in  response  to Representative  Doogan  agreed                                                                   
that everyone's  retirement statements  look bleak.   He also                                                                   
pointed out that  one position the city was not  able to fill                                                                   
was its  engineer position.  He  related that the  salary was                                                                   
not set high enough to attract an engineer.                                                                                     
MR. SEMMENS continued:                                                                                                          
     The  reason I  am  against  going back  to  the full  DB                                                                   
     plans is  that they  are too costly  and the total  cost                                                                   
     cannot  be known  until  the last  person  in the  plans                                                                   
     dies,  let  alone at  the  time  wages  are paid.    Our                                                                   
     current situation  is a case in  point.  Prior to  a few                                                                   
     years  ago we  were all  blithely  going along  thinking                                                                   
     our pension  plans were fully  funded.  Surprise  - they                                                                   
     were  not  and  recently  the  investment  markets  have                                                                   
     dealt us  another staggering blow.   The result  was, is                                                                   
     and  may  continue  to  be,   skyrocketing  contribution                                                                   
     rates.    With  the  DC plan  the  cost  is  known,  the                                                                   
     employer  pays it  one time  at the same  time that  the                                                                   
     services  are rendered.    If we  find  it difficult  to                                                                   
     hire  employees we  will  need to  raise  wages, but  at                                                                   
     least that is a local control decision.                                                                                    
MR.  SEMMENS opined  that  he has  always  been  in favor  of                                                                   
raising wages.   He said he has favored the DC  plan since it                                                                   
was first  discussed.   He offered his  belief that  in order                                                                   
for a  public retirement  system to  be competitive with  the                                                                   
private sector, wages  also need to be competitive.   The key                                                                   
is  wages.   However, the  level  of wages  for employees  is                                                                   
under local  control, and is not  the result of  a retirement                                                                   
system "wagging the whole decision-making process."                                                                             
MR. SEMMENS continued:                                                                                                          
     At  June  30,  2007,  which  is the  date  of  the  last                                                                   
     Actuarial   Valuation,   the  total   state's   unfunded                                                                   
     liability  for PERS  and TRS  was $7.5  billion.   Since                                                                   
     then  investment  returns  have not  met  the  actuarial                                                                   
     assumption of  8.25 percent.  Although we do  not have a                                                                   
     more  current   actuarial  valuation,  I  think   it  is                                                                   
     reasonable   to  predict  that   the  state's   unfunded                                                                   
     liability   will  be  up  at   June  30,  2008   because                                                                   
     investment  returns  were  negative,  about  3  percent.                                                                   
     That  is  over   11  percent  short  of   the  actuarial                                                                   
     assumption.   This  fiscal year  investment returns  are                                                                   
     over 20 percent  negative and if it doesn't  turn around                                                                   
     I  can  absolutely  predict that  the  state's  unfunded                                                                   
     liability will be up at June 30, 2009.                                                                                     
4:37:26 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SEMMENS added  that the  actuarial  evaluation for  June                                                                   
30, 2009  will not  be available  until April  2010, and  the                                                                   
rates will "kick  in" in 2012.  Thus, a long  lag time exists                                                                   
as a result of the investment returns.  He said:                                                                                
     This will put  upward pressure on the  2012 contribution                                                                   
     rates.   At June 30, 2007  total assets of the  PERS and                                                                   
     TRS  pension funds  were  $15.8 billion.    At June  30,                                                                   
     2008 assets  were $15.5  billion and  as of January  31,                                                                   
     2009  the  latest available  financial  statements  show                                                                   
     total  market value  of assets  to be  $12.1 billion,  a                                                                   
     decrease  of  $3.7  billion since  the  last  valuation.                                                                   
     Clearly,  assets  are  going  in  the  wrong  direction.                                                                   
     Ideally  we would have  been making  progress on  paying                                                                   
     down the  state's unfunded  liability, but we  have not.                                                                   
     I  do  not  want  to  be  critical   of  the  investment                                                                   
     performance,   nearly  every   pension  system  in   the                                                                   
     country is experiencing similar returns.                                                                                   
MR.  SEMMENS   acknowledged  that  the  investment   team  is                                                                   
phenomenal and  are frequently in  the top-tier.   He related                                                                   
that  the  whole  country  is  experiencing   problems.    In                                                                   
response to  Chair Olson, he  agreed the investment  team has                                                                   
routinely outperformed the permanent fund.  He said:                                                                            
     As an employer  I like the DC plan for the  certainty of                                                                   
     cost  that  such  a  plan provides.    The  employer  is                                                                   
     responsible  to  pay  the  retirement  contribution  one                                                                   
     time only and the cost is known.                                                                                           
MR.  SEMMENS  offered a  scenario  in  which a  city  manager                                                                   
prepares  a budget  setting snow  plowing  costs at  $800,000                                                                   
ten years later  discovers the costs were  actually $900,000.                                                                   
He said:                                                                                                                        
     Ten years from  now employers will not be  asked to make                                                                   
     additional contributions  to cover investment  losses or                                                                   
     for  the  many  other  reasons  that  DB  pension  plans                                                                   
     become  underfunded.   The  private sector  has fled  DB                                                                   
     plans because  they need  to know how  much it  costs to                                                                   
     produce  their  products.    They  cannot  go  to  their                                                                   
     customer  10  years  later  and  say  they  should  have                                                                   
     charged  them more  because it  has come  to light  that                                                                   
     pension  benefits earned  back then  actually cost  more                                                                   
     than  they figured  into the  sales price.   Should  the                                                                   
     public sector be any different?                                                                                            
     Shouldn't  we tell  our constituents  how  much it  will                                                                   
     cost to  plow the streets or  run the ice  rinks without                                                                   
     the specter  of revising  that cost  years later  due to                                                                   
     changes in retirement costs?                                                                                               
MR. SEMMENS  opined that  one would need  to search  long and                                                                   
hard  to  find  a  private  sector   employer  who  offers  a                                                                   
retirement  plan similar  to the  PERS  Tier III  or the  TRS                                                                   
Tier II retirement plans.                                                                                                       
4:41:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SEMMENS said:                                                                                                               
     Please consider  carefully before  you make promises  to                                                                   
     future  employees  that  the residents  of  Alaska  will                                                                   
     provide  them with  guaranteed  retirement benefits  the                                                                   
     cost of which  you cannot possibly know.   My experience                                                                   
     of  the  last  several  years tells  me  that  even  the                                                                   
     experts  may  not be  able  to reasonably  predict  such                                                                   
MR.  SEMMENS related  that  he  has observed  many  actuarial                                                                   
evaluations.   He opined  that one  year they  say one  thing                                                                   
and the next  year they say  something else.  He  opined that                                                                   
it  is  not exact  science.    He  stated he  has  heard  the                                                                   
process characterized as an art.  He said:                                                                                      
     Please  ask yourselves  the question  - is  it right  to                                                                   
     require future  generations of Alaskans to pay  the cost                                                                   
     increases  that  seem to  inevitably  beleaguer  defined                                                                   
     benefit plans?                                                                                                             
MR. SEMMENS  stated that  he has been  "in the business"  for                                                                   
25 years.   He opined that  his children will  be responsible                                                                   
for the  cost of  $10 billion  in unfunded  liability of  his                                                                   
retirement  benefit.   He said,  "Personally,  I don't  think                                                                   
it's right."                                                                                                                    
     Major  corporations  have  gone bankrupt  due  to  their                                                                   
     inability  to  fund these  pension  plans.   I  am  very                                                                   
     concerned  that governments  are  headed  down the  same                                                                   
     path.   I am very  concerned that  the City of  Soldotna                                                                   
     will not  be able  to continue  the service levels  that                                                                   
     our  residents  enjoy  today if  our  PERS  contribution                                                                   
     rates  increase   any  more  than  they   already  have.                                                                   
     Remember  that  in  2004  the  PERS  rate  was  about  6                                                                   
     percent, currently  it is 35  percent.  It is  true that                                                                   
     currently the  City's contribution rate is capped  at 22                                                                   
     percent,  but I  wonder if  the  State will  be able  to                                                                   
     afford  to pay  the  difference in  22  percent and  the                                                                   
     actuarially  required  rate  if  State  revenue  streams                                                                   
     remain under  pressure.  Usually  something has  to give                                                                   
     and  it wouldn't  surprise me  if this rate  went up  in                                                                   
     the next 5 years.                                                                                                          
     To me,  it seems unwise  and perhaps even  irresponsible                                                                   
     to change  course on our  pension plans, especially  now                                                                   
     when  it is  abundantly  clear that  investment  returns                                                                   
     are volatile  and may not  produce the returns  that our                                                                   
     defined  benefit   plans  depend  upon.     Imagine  the                                                                   
     contribution  rates that  will be necessary  to pay  off                                                                   
     the  state's  unfunded  liability   in  the  event  that                                                                   
     investment  returns  do not  return to  normal  quickly.                                                                   
     Just last year the TRS rate was 54 percent of payroll.                                                                     
4:44:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SEMMENS said:                                                                                                               
     The  contribution  of  the   State  of  Alaska  and  the                                                                   
     employer  of a  teacher making  $50,000  was $27,000  to                                                                   
     the retirement  system.  This does not  seem sustainable                                                                   
     to me.                                                                                                                     
     I would  also ask  that you  consider carefully  whether                                                                   
     it is  right, in a moral  sense, for you to  promise new                                                                   
     employees  benefits that  may be impossible  to pay  for                                                                   
     30 to 50 years  from now.  If the answer  is yes, then I                                                                   
     must ask is  it right, in a moral sense, to  make such a                                                                   
     promise   not  knowing   what   future  generations   of                                                                   
     Alaskans  will have  to sacrifice  in order  to pay  for                                                                   
     this promise.   This is the time for conservatism.   The                                                                   
     private   sector   has   certainly    embraced   defined                                                                   
     contribution  plans.  You will  be hard pressed  to find                                                                   
     private    sector   employers    that   offer    defined                                                                   
     contribution plans similar to tiers II and III.                                                                            
     Please  hold this  bill in  your committee  and let  the                                                                   
     rest  of  the  U.S.  catch  up  to  the  pioneering  and                                                                   
     difficult work  that the Alaska legislature  did when it                                                                   
     adopted  the  blended  retirement  plans  we  have  now.                                                                   
     This is  the fiscally  responsible thing  to do,  and in                                                                   
     my opinion it is the right thing to do.                                                                                    
     Thank you  for hearing  me today.   I would be  happy to                                                                   
     try to answer any questions.                                                                                               
4:45:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to page 2, line 7  of HB 30, which                                                              
read, "The  employer shall  transmit the contributions  calculated                                                              
in (a) of  this section."  He  also referred to page  2, lines 10,                                                              
which read:   (1) the actuarially determined employer  normal cost                                                              
for  the plan  and all  contributions  required by  the former  AS                                                              
14.25.350 and  by AS 39.30.370 for  the fiscal year.   He inquired                                                              
as  to  whether that  refers  to  the  full  normal cost  and  the                                                              
contributions required  under the former DB plan  would then "fall                                                              
back  to  the  employer"  or if  he  is  misinterpreting  proposed                                                              
Section 4 of the bill.                                                                                                          
MR.  SEMMENS  answered that  he  was  not  able to  interpret  the                                                              
specific  provision  of the  bill.    He surmised  that  employers                                                              
would  be responsible  for the normal  cost rate  of past  service                                                              
liability.   He  related the  state  makes payments  based on  the                                                              
rate that the ARM board sets.                                                                                                   
4:47:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to  the fiscal note  which assumes                                                              
that the liability  is 22.5 percent for PERS and  12.5 percent for                                                              
TRS.  He offered  his belief the liability  supersedes legislation                                                              
that  would   bring  state's  unfunded   liability  cost   on  the                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON next  referred  to a  document in  members'                                                              
packets titled,  "Retention Rates  as a Percentage:  Comparison of                                                              
Final 2 years  of Defined Benefit  Retirement Plan to the  First 2                                                              
years  of Defined Contribution  Plan."   He referred  to the  last                                                              
two sets  of boxes,  and noted  that the  two year PERS  retention                                                              
rate  was 55  percent,  and under  the  DC plan  the  rate was  57                                                              
percent.   He related that the  TRS retention rate  increased from                                                              
59 percent to 64  percent.  He inquired as to  whether Mr. Semmens                                                              
experienced similar results in his experience.                                                                                  
MR. SEMMENS  answered that  the City of  Soldotna has  had several                                                              
new Tier IV employees, but none have retired.                                                                                   
4:49:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SEMMENS,  in response  to  Representative  Doogan,  explained                                                              
that  state's unfunded  liability  is the  difference between  the                                                              
actuarial value  of the assets,  which is slightly  different than                                                              
the market  value and the  calculated liability, which  is present                                                              
value for  the benefits  when due.   He explained  the job  of the                                                              
actuarial is  to calculate the liability.   He related  that it is                                                              
just  an  arithmetic  calculation   to  determine  the  difference                                                              
between the  assets and the liability.   He related a  scenario in                                                              
which  there  is $25  billion  in  liability  with assets  of  $15                                                              
billion.    Thus, the  state's  unfunded  liability would  be  $10                                                              
billion.    He   explained  that  each  year   results  in  either                                                              
liability  or  surpluses.   The  actuarial  will project  over  25                                                              
years, similar to  a how a mortgage is calculated  and will arrive                                                              
at  a  rate.    He  opined  that  the  normal  rate  for  earnings                                                              
currently is about  14 percent, and the difference  is the state's                                                              
unfunded liability, which would be paid off in about 25 years.                                                                  
4:51:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN inquired  as  to whether  his scenario  was                                                              
based on  assumptions of  the cost  of the  retirement plan  for a                                                              
specific set of beneficiaries for a specific time.                                                                              
MR. SEMMENS  answered yes.   He related  that every  single person                                                              
is reviewed by the actuarial during the process.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   DOOGAN  related   his   understanding  that   the                                                              
assumptions  represent an  attempt to  determine the  cost of  the                                                              
MR. SEMMENS agreed.                                                                                                             
4:52:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN related his  understanding that  the public                                                              
sector  should not  be treated  differently  from private  sector.                                                              
He raised the  question of whether  a DB plan is an  effective way                                                              
to  retain state  employees who  might  earn more  in the  private                                                              
sector.   He inquired  as to  whether Mr.  Semmens would  advocate                                                              
paying the "market rate" for employees instead.                                                                                 
MR. SEMMENS answered  if the state were to use a  "market type" of                                                              
retirement system that  it is likely the state would  also need to                                                              
have "market  type" of  salary.   He offered  his belief  the only                                                              
difference  between the private  and public  sector is  the "every                                                              
day health  benefits" the  public sector  enjoys that  the private                                                              
sector does not.   He affirmed that Representative  Doogan's point                                                              
was "right on."                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN observed  that if  future generations  must                                                              
pay for  retirement plans, the  plans would probably  be different                                                              
than the current generation of Alaskans.                                                                                        
4:53:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  asked if the  actuarial history for  the last                                                              
15 years was available.   He inquired as to the  state process for                                                              
determining employer  contributions prior to enacting  Senate Bill                                                              
141 in 2005.                                                                                                                    
MR. SEMMENS  acknowledged  that he ignored  the actuarial  process                                                              
for  many years  since the  rates were  low.   However, after  the                                                              
state's  unfunded   liability  rose   in  2002,  he   then  became                                                              
involved.    He  related his  understanding  that  the  historical                                                              
process is similar.   He related that for 25  years the consultant                                                              
was  Mercer.    The  process was  for  the  consultant  to  review                                                              
liability  for each  employee and  arrive at  a liability  number,                                                              
compare the  figure to assets, and  arrive at an outcome  that was                                                              
often  fine.   He opined  that people  questioned the  assumptions                                                              
and a  review actuarial  was hired.   In 2005, another  consultant                                                              
disagreed  with the assumptions  the two  other consultants  used.                                                              
That  consultant   increased  the  projections  for   the  state's                                                              
unfunded liability.   He  pointed out an  actuarial gain  in 2007,                                                              
when health  care costs were  found not  rising as quickly  as the                                                              
projections.    He  characterized  the  actuarial  process  as  an                                                              
expensive and extensive review process.                                                                                         
4:56:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON  recalled that  Mercer  used  an  old table  on  life                                                              
expectancy.   Thus,  people lived  longer so  the amount  budgeted                                                              
was  insufficient.   The state's  unfunded liability  contribution                                                              
was  also  not  sufficient,  he  related.    He  opined  that  the                                                              
consultant was not  totally liable.  He related  his understanding                                                              
some  political  judgments  were   made  that  also  affected  the                                                              
outcome.   He offered his  belief that  the state is  currently in                                                              
4:57:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH  related that  he  is able  to  serve in  the                                                              
legislature  since  he  had  a  DB  plan.    He  opined  that  the                                                              
difference between  his retirement  system and the  state's system                                                              
is that his  system retains 10  or 12 actuarial firms  and several                                                              
firms conduct an  assessment every three months  to further assess                                                              
the  projections.   He  said, "The  ones  that  don't perform  are                                                              
gone."  Additionally,  the actuarial firms also  project 100 years                                                              
out.   He opined what happened  to the state's  unfunded liability                                                              
is a result of  Senate Bill 141.  He recalled  an earlier scenario                                                              
and  commented that  the  snowplow  budget is  a  function of  the                                                              
weather, which cannot be predicted.                                                                                             
4:59:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN inquired  as to why  municipal employees  are                                                              
not paid the same wages as the private sector.                                                                                  
MR.  SEMMENS  answered  one  reason  is  that  the  public  sector                                                              
provides other benefits.   Thus, lesser wages can  be paid because                                                              
other  components make  up the difference.    He pointed out  that                                                              
municipal  operators are  paid 12  months  a year  instead of  the                                                              
private sector's seasonal summer or winter season.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN recalled his  military and teaching  service.                                                              
He said, "I  put up with a lot of  guff.  One of the  reasons is I                                                              
had defined benefits."                                                                                                          
MR. SEMMENS agreed.   He asserted the difference  is local control                                                              
issue  such that  a  city council  can decide  whether  to pay  an                                                              
employee $20 or $25 per hour.                                                                                                   
5:01:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON recalled  during  the DB  versus DC  debate                                                              
that  a  number  of  municipalities   who  feared  they  would  be                                                              
bankrupt with  a 54 percent  contribution rate for  the retirement                                                              
plan.  He  inquired as to  whether that situation would  emerge if                                                              
the state went back to a DB plan.                                                                                               
MR. SEMMENS  offered  his belief  that would  depend on the  local                                                              
government's  ability to  pay.   He opined  that at  some point  a                                                              
limit  is   reached.     He  predicted   that  as   municipalities                                                              
contribute  a  larger  amount  of   the  available  resources  for                                                              
retirement  benefit   contributions,  a   limit  is   reached  and                                                              
municipalities  will opt out.   He opined  that this  could happen                                                              
whether  the plan  continues  to be  a  DC plan  or  if the  state                                                              
returns to  a DB plan.  He  related that result could  also happen                                                              
with  extremely   poor  investment   returns  or  if   legislators                                                              
increased benefits  and the  state's unfunded liability  continued                                                              
to rise.   He  further related  that the  legacy  DB plan will  be                                                              
affected  by  many  decisions  and  the  investment  return.    He                                                              
offered  his belief  the  greater  risk is  that  the employer  is                                                              
clearly  taking on  all the  risk for  the 11,000  employees.   He                                                              
opined that a DB  plan would likely cost more than  a DC plan.  He                                                              
said he thought that  it might be 15 or 20 years  before the funds                                                              
unfunded liability  would need  to be paid,  which is  what really                                                              
bothers him.   He questioned  how the rates  could be  54 percent,                                                              
if the DB  and DC plans are  relatively the same costs.   He asked                                                              
whether anyone  could guarantee that  the rates would not  rise to                                                              
54 percent again.                                                                                                               
5:04:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to page 2, to  proposed Section 6.                                                              
He  explained that  the  current  law limits  the  cost of  living                                                              
adjustments  unless  the  plan  is  funded at  105  percent.    He                                                              
expressed concern  if the  constraint is  removed, that  the state                                                              
would  be required  to  make additional  post  retirement cost  of                                                              
living adjustments.   He inquired as to whether  Mr. Semmens could                                                              
address the  liability on the system  given his experience  on the                                                              
ARM board.                                                                                                                      
MR.  SEMMENS  answered  that  it  would  depend  entirely  on  the                                                              
percentage  of   increases  and  the  cumulative   effect  of  the                                                              
increases  over time.   Clearly  every  time a  municipality or  a                                                              
school district  increases teachers' salaries above  the actuarial                                                              
assumption, the  state's unfunded liability increases,  he stated.                                                              
He remarked  that in  a cost  share plan,  everyone in  the system                                                              
shares the cost equally.                                                                                                        
5:06:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON   related   that  the   additional   post-                                                              
retirement cost of  living adjustments would build each  year.  He                                                              
inquired as to  whether that would also affect  retirees currently                                                              
living out of state.                                                                                                            
MR. SEMMENS answered that he was not certain.                                                                                   
5:06:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN  related  his  understanding  that  state's                                                              
unfunded liability  is due  to higher costs  such as  medical cost                                                              
increases,  the system was  not adequately  funded to  account for                                                              
the increased health  costs, and the investments  did not perform.                                                              
He inquired  as to  whether any other  factors contributed  to the                                                              
state's unfunded liability.                                                                                                     
MR. SEMMENS  agreed with  the broad  categories.  He  acknowledged                                                              
investment losses  contribute to  the state's unfunded  liability.                                                              
Additionally, the  actuarial assumptions are  extensive, including                                                              
changes such  as gender,  life span, and  the number  of children.                                                              
He opined  that making a  change in any  of the assumptions  would                                                              
affect  everything else.    Further, he  said  that what  actually                                                              
happens  matters  such  as  that people  are  living  longer  than                                                              
previously predicted.   He emphasized  the single item that  has a                                                              
huge impact on  the state's unfunded liability  is when retirement                                                              
benefits  are increased.   He  said,  "Let's say  five years  from                                                              
now,  by some  miracle, we're  105 percent  funded.   You will  be                                                              
getting  a great  deal of  pressure to  increase benefits  because                                                              
we've got  the money to  pay for it.   When you  do that it  has a                                                              
huge impact.  That's  another total unknown as an  employer at the                                                              
City of Soldotna."                                                                                                              
5:09:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN opined  that when  the state  changed  to a                                                              
different  retirement system,  the  state also  shifted the  risk.                                                              
Thus, when  medical or retirement  costs increase, the  risk falls                                                              
on  the  individual  rather  than  the state.    Further,  if  the                                                              
investments do not  perform, the risks fall on  the individual, as                                                              
well.    He  related  his  understanding  that  making  sufficient                                                              
contributions  to the  fund  remains the  state's  responsibility,                                                              
although the  employees in the DC  plan will be solely  limited to                                                              
the amount  of the state's contributions.   He offered  his belief                                                              
if  the state  were  to  "shoulder the  risks"  that  it would  be                                                              
easier to  hire and retain employees  than to expect them  to bear                                                              
the risk.                                                                                                                       
MR. SEMMENS  answered yes.  He said,  "As a city manager,  I would                                                              
much  rather  be   out  here  recruiting  with   this  gold-plated                                                              
retirement plan, but the question is, who is going to pay it?"                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN acknowledged  that  the state  is both  the                                                              
payer  and the  employer,  which he  opined  results in  competing                                                              
5:11:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  remarked that at some point a  job offer is                                                              
made to an  employee and he/she  either takes the job  or does not                                                              
take  the job.   He  related his  understanding  that Mr.  Semmens                                                              
does not  wish to place the  state's unfunded liability  on future                                                              
city councils  to cover current  employee wages and  benefits, but                                                              
would rather  let the  employee decide if  the wages  and benefits                                                              
being offered are adequate.                                                                                                     
MR. SEMMENS  answered yes,  that it is  incumbent on  the employer                                                              
to put  together an employment  packet.   He related that  $50 per                                                              
hour  would  not  be  sufficient  to  attract  an  engineer.    He                                                              
concluded  his  whole  point  is  that  the  DC  plan  allows  for                                                              
certainty, while the DB plan guarantees uncertainty.                                                                            
CHAIR OLSON  announced that HB 30  would be held over  for further                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB30 ver E.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
02 HB30 Sponsor Statement.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
03 HB30 Sectional Analysis.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
04 HB30 Leg Research Report #06-050 Impact of Tier 4 Switch (2).pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
05 HB30 Leg Research Report #09-108.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
06 HB30-DOA-DRB-03-16-09.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
10 HB30 DV vs DC Comparison.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
11 HB30 Email comments pro & con.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
12 HB30 Buck Memo DB vs DC Comparison 2-12-09.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
13 HB30 AACP Letter of Support.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
14 HB30 AFL CIO defined benefit support.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
07 HB30 Sectional Analysis - corrected.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
15 HB30 NEA Letter.PDF HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
16 HB 30 Div of R&B Tier Comparison.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
17 HB30 Pensionomics Alaska March 18 2008.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
18 HB30 Ilana Boivie Bio for Alaska, Feb 2009.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
19 HB30 Pensionomics factsheet_AK.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
20 HB30 NCPERS_ResearchSeries_TopTen.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
21 HB30 Pensionomics Report.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
22 HB30 Harry Mandel letter.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
23 HB30 ARMB letter 1.27.06.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
24 HB30-UA-Sysbra-03-17-09 corrected.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
25 HB30 Letter of Support - Joe Minnick 3-18-09.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
27 HB30 Leg Research.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
28 HB30 Letter - Craig Chapman.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
29 HB30 Letter AK Center for Public Policy 3-18-09.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
30 HB30 Retention Rates Chart by Rep. Seaton.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30
31 HB30 Written testimony by Larry Semmens.pdf HL&C 3/18/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 30