The Ohio Public Employees’ Retirement System (OPERS) would be under strict transparency-related regulation if several bills currently being written see the light of day.
Under the bills being drafted by state representatives Brigid Kelly and Diane Grendell, OPERS would be required to disclose a certain amount of fee information related to its alternative investments, broadcast their board meetings publicly, cap advisory fees, and limit pay increases to top pension fund employees.
The bills would also create a new legislative panel dedicated to reviewing pension system fees and employee salaries.
“I started a couple months ago, because there are a lot of people in the state of Ohio who have been promised pension and retirement benefits as a result of service to this state,” Kelly said in an interview with Cleveland.com. “We think there should be transparency for those folks, and accountability for the people who run the funds.”
The bills come on the tail of OPERS decision to slash health care benefits for its beneficiaries to rescue the OPERS Health Care Fund. Had the changes not been enacted, the fund was at risk of becoming insolvent in 11 years. Because of the board’s action, the health care fund’s solvency was extended to 18.75 years.
“This is for people who have worked very hard for the state, at least many of them have, and to see constantly their benefits be dwindled away, while people are getting their golden parachutes,” Kelly told Cleveland.com.
Fees related to alternative investments have been under scrutiny across the country. A new law passed by Maryland last summer will force its state retirement system to reveal the true amount it pays outside managers in fees.
Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is a huge critic of private equity firms and introduced legislation last year that would institute a number of new regulations – including publicizing private equity firms’ fees and returns, and being held accountable for their portfolio companies’ illegal activities.
A study by an Oxford professor concluded that Pennsylvania’s two largest public pension plans had underreported billions in fees shelled out to private investors.