Public Employee Pension Checks Dropping 13-Percent

Most of Wisconsin’s retired public employees will get up to 13-percent less in their monthly pension checks starting next May. It’s the fifth-and-final year that pension checks will be reduced because of a 26-percent loss in the state’s overall fund in 2008. That was when the financial services industry

almost collapsed, the Great Recession began in earnest, and both public-and-private workers saw their retirement benefits plunge. Public retirees who invest in the State Retirement System’s Core Fund get their payment changes smoothed over during a five-year period – and this is the last year that the big plunge will be reflected on their checks. Deputy Employee Trust Funds Secretary Rob Marchant says the retirees’ benefit checks should start going up again in 2014, thanks to a growth in investment values every year since 2008. Retirees took a seven-percent cut in their payments this year, and between one-point-two and two-point-one percent in each of the previous three years. Payments to those in the Core Fund cannot be reduced below the levels the employees had when they first retired. As a result, 58-percent of retirees did not get the full cuts – and others took bigger hits. Marchant says he knows the cuts are painful, but they’re important to ensure that the system pays all the benefits which are promised. The State Retirement System covers all state-and-local public workers except those in Milwaukee city and county, which have their own pension systems.