New Connecticut Study Group Aims to Solve Pension Mess

Commission will study state’s fiscal situation in an attempt to boost the state-worker retirement system’s low 41% funding level.

Trying to figure out how to fix the state’s severely underfunded public pension plan is the lot of the new Connecticut pension group, slated to meet for the first time on Tuesday.

The 13-member group, the Connecticut Pension Sustainability Commission, will convene in the Hartford Legislative Office Building. The commission is led by state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, a Democrat from Westport.

The general assembly authorized the sustainability team’s creation in February following its approval in last year’s 2018 state budget proposals. The group’s members, appointed by various political higher-ups that include Gov. Dannel Malloy, and state House and Senate heads, will conduct an inventory of Connecticut’s capital assets, and how they will minimize unfunded liability, and suggest what to do with them as they are moved into a state trust reserved for the pension plans, the Bond Buyer reports.

The Connecticut public pension plan’s 41% funded ratio has been a key topic leading up to November’s gubernatorial election. There will also be big changes in November as Denise Nappier, the current state treasurer, has decided not to run again after 20 years in office. In Connecticut, the treasurer is the sole trustee of the pension assets, functioning as the main manager rather than funneling decisions through a retirement board.

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In April, Connecticut’s $18.5 billion pension debt caused the S&P Global Ratings agency to bump its A-plus rating down to an A.

“Under our state rating criteria, when a majority of our debt ratios exceeds certain thresholds, our criteria adds an extra one-notch downward adjustment to our overall indicative state rating score,” S&P said in an April statement obtained by Reuters.

Prior to the meeting, there will be a scheduled news conference.

Neither Steinberg or the state treasury could be reached for comment.

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