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Murray State professor elected trustee
Dr. Lynn Gannon Patterson, of Murray, is the newest Teachers’ Retirement System trustee after winning the May members’ election.
Patterson is an associate professor in elementary education in Murray State University’s College of Education and Human Services. She teaches math methods for elementary teachers and classroom management classes. Patterson is a National Board Certified Teacher and a 2002 Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Mathematics teaching. Previously, she taught first through sixth grades and was an elementary school principal in Tennessee, where she retired after 34 years in 2008. Patterson became a TRS member in 2008 and has taught at Murray State .for a decade.
Patterson holds an Ed.D. in administration and supervision from Tennessee State University, an Ed.S. in administration and supervision from Middle Tennessee State University, an M.Ed. in special education from Middle Tennessee and a bachelor’s in speech and hearing from Middle Tennessee.
Patterson, whose four-year term began July 1, took the place of Mary Adams, who was appointed in 2015 to complete an unexpired term.
The Board of Trustees consists of 11 members: seven people elected by the membership (four active teachers, one retiree, two lay trustees), two appointed by the governor with investment experience, the state treasurer and the state education commissioner.
New State Budget Provides Full Funding for TRS; First Time In More Than A Decade
For the first time in a decade, the full required contribution for the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Kentucky is included in the biennial budget. That consists of about $2 billion total, including the full $1.09 billion requested in additional funding to address the unfunded liability.
The new budget is on the heels of the two-year spending plan that expires June 30 where TRS received 94 percent of the required contribution.
“These new funds are hugely important for TRS,” Executive Secretary Gary Harbin said. “This keeps the system on the path to full funding. We’re thankful to Gov. Matt Bevin and the legislature for this tremendous support.”
What Budget Means for Retired Teacher Health Care and Non-Single Subsidy
The 2018-20 budget funds retiree health coverage in ways that if repeated in future budgets would negatively impact retiree health care. TRS is beginning discussions, described more fully below, to ensure the long-term availability and current coverage levels of the retirement system’s retiree health plan.
“Certainly, this was a difficult budget, and TRS is very thankful for the additional funding it received for the pension fund,” TRS Executive Secretary Gary Harbin said. “At the same time, using medical insurance trust dollars in future budgets for purposes that were not intended would jeopardize retiree health care in the long run.”
TRS retirees receive health care through two plans. The first is the Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan (KEHP) administered by the state Personnel Cabinet for under-65 and not Medicare-eligible retirees. This is the same pay-as-you-go plan that covers active teachers and state employees.
The second plan is the Medicare Eligible Health Plan (MEHP) administered by TRS for Medicare-eligible retirees and those 65 and over. The MEHP is exclusively for TRS members and its accompanying Medical Insurance Fund (TRS fund) has not had money re-allocated to help balance the budget. The TRS fund’s assets – currently at a funding ratio of 26.7 percent – are for the claims of the MEHP’s over-65 single coverage in the next 26 years. So, while the TRS fund is prefunded, it doesn’t have a surplus unless the funding ratio exceeds 100 percent.
The new 2018-20 budget assigns the costs for two pieces of retiree health care – one dealing with premiums for the dependents of retired teachers and the other dealing with premiums for under65 retired teachers – to the TRS fund that covers MEHP claims. Neither of those expenses were envisioned in 2010, when Shared Responsibility became law, as uses for the TRS fund.
One piece of the budget not envisioned in 2010 allows TRS to pay the non-single subsidy – something TRS cannot do without the permission of the legislature – out of the TRS fund. This costs about $10 million a year. The legislative authority given to TRS also requires approval of the Board of Trustees.
Generally, this benefit has been provided since 2004, with funding and/or permission from the state, for under-65 retirees who want to cover dependents through a family, parent plus or couple plan. These retirees represent about 7 percent of all retirees.
Based on the most recent budget passed, it would appear any subsidy going forward for dependents covered through under-65 retired teachers would be the responsibility of the TRS fund.
Using the TRS fund for the subsidy for the dependents of under-65 retirees is manageable in the short term; however, it’s inconsistent with the 2010 Shared Responsibility solution and unsustainable in the long term. The retirement system for other state employees eliminated this subsidy several years ago.
The dependent subsidy expense, if continued year after year, could lead to coverage reductions for all retirees and defeat the primary goal of Shared Responsibility to protect the coverage of the entire retired teacher population.
TRS will be reviewing the loss of funding for dependent care of under-65 retirees and will be meeting with education stakeholder groups to reach a consensus on sustainable options for the future in time for 2019 plan year.
The other piece of the budget requires TRS to pay what has been the state’s share of under-65 single coverage from the TRS fund to cover those same members who retired on July 1, 2010, or after. (The TRS fund, as envisioned by the 2010 Shared Responsibility law, already pays the cost of under-65 health insurance for those members who retired prior to July 1, 2010.) The budget calls for any state surplus from the 2018-2019 fiscal year to go to TRS toward the $70 million one-year cost of the single-coverage premium subsidy for under-65 retirees that otherwise will come from the TRS fund.
“Earmarking any surplus for what has been the state’s share of under-65 retired teacher coverage is a positive sign that this hopefully is a one-time budgeting occurrence,” Harbin said. “However, if continued, the cost would lead to coverage reductions or premium increases for retired teachers.”
TRS financial updates
As the end of the year approaches, actuaries and auditors have completed their annual work evaluating the condition of the retirement system for Kentucky’s teachers. Here’s what the reviews, and other updates, show:
- The pension plan’s funding ratio improved to 56.4 percent as of June 30, 2017, from 54.6 percent a year earlier. The unfunded accrued liability decreased by $200 million to $14.3 billion. The system received 99 percent of the actuarially required contribution – thanks to a $499 million additional contribution from the state budget.
- The medical insurance fund improved to 26.7 percent funded compared to 21.9 percent the prior year. When Shared Responsibility was enacted in 2010, the funding ratio was at 7.5 percent.
- The investing return for the fiscal year was 15.37 gross and 15.02 percent net.
Now there’s an app for … TRS
The app for any mobile device can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store by searching for “TRS Pathway.” First, members must set up their Pathway account on the desktop site (mss.trs.ky.gov) to be able to use the app.
Members are encouraged to try it, from near or far at any hour. Use the appropriate link below to download the app for your mobile device.
Website address changes
The address for the Teachers’ Retirement System website is now https://trs.ky.gov. Please update your bookmarks.
Pathway member self-service portal has new address
As TRS continues updating its online services, the address for the Pathway member self-service portal has changed to mss.trs.ky.gov. Please update web browser bookmarks. The old address (mss.ktrs.ky.gov) will continue to work, but members may see an error message requiring them to allow their browser to continue to the old address. It is safe to do so. Ultimately, the member will be redirected to the new site. Please call with any questions at 800-618-1687.
Keep TRS current with you
As the Teachers’ Retirement System provides increasingly more information to members by electronic means, it is crucial that members keep their email address, as well as their snail mail (home) address and telephone number, current.
Even if you change your address with the school district where you work (or worked), the school district doesn’t report that change to TRS. So, TRS needs to be notified of the change independently by members.
Several ways exist to update your information. First, your contact information can be changed in the Pathway self-service portal. Forms that can be printed and filled out are available in Pathway (with current information already filled in) and on the TRS website (see link immediately below).Otherwise, mail or fax a signed letter to TRS with your name and identification number and the new information. The mailing address is: 479 Versailles Rd., Frankfort, KY 40601. The fax is 502-848-8599.
Did you know: TRS reports to federal securities regulators
This report, which is linked from the Financials, Reports & Quarterly Investments page of the TRS website, is required for most institutional investment managers, including pension funds, investment advisers, banks, insurance companies, broker-dealers and corporations.
The report covers investments in publicly listed companies.
Other useful information
Annual reports, investment returns, financials and plan information
Salaries and expenses
State laws for TRS (KRS 161.220-716)
Administrative regulations for TRS
Publications and newsletters
Funding Work Group information and materials