CT’s two largest pensions $3B richer

From HartfordBusiness.com

State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier said Friday the Teachers’ Retirement Fund (TRF) returned 14.23 percent and the State Employees’ Retirement Fund (SERF) grew 14.11 percent. Both bettered their actuarial investment assumptions of 8.5 percent and 8 percent, respectively, Nappier said. Her office oversees those and a bushel-basket of other municipal retirement funds.

Though not a totally direct comparison, the Standard & Poor’s 500, a closely tracked benchmark index, rose 29.6 percent last year.

“The investment results affirm our ongoing investment strategy to position the pension fund portfolios for long term growth and financial strength,” Nappier said in a statement.

The funds’ performance, she said, also lifted the overall value of the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds (CRPTF), which include six pension plans and nine trust funds, to $28.23 billion — its highest market value ever. After retiree payouts and expenses, CRPTF posted a $2.94 billion net increase from 2012.

Over the past five years, which includes the period of the Great Recession, the market value of the CRPTF has risen $8 billion, or 40 percent.

In addition to SERF and TRF, the CRPTF includes assets of the Connecticut Municipal Employees’ Retirement Fund; Probate Court Retirement Fund; State Judges’ Retirement Fund; State’s Attorneys’ Retirement Fund; Soldiers’ Sailors’ & Marines’ Fund; Endowment for the Arts; Agricultural College Fund; Ida Eaton Cotton Fund; Andrew Clark Fund; School Fund; Hopemead Fund; Police & Fireman’s Survivors’ Benefit Fund; and State of Connecticut Other Post-Employment Benefits Trust Fund.


Malloy Pushes Tax Cuts, Relief For Retired Teachers

Proposals Come As General Assembly Prepares To Convene

By JENNY WILSON and CHRISTOPHER KEATING, jenwilson@courant.com

The Hartford Courant

7:00 PM EST, January 31, 2014



HARTFORD — Facing a budget surplus, an economy on the rebound and an election year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday announced a two-year plan that would cut in half the amount of pension income on which retired teachers pay taxes and offer several other tax cuts at a cost of $228 million in the next fiscal year.

The governor’s office said the plan – which includes $155 million in tax rebates the governor proposed Thursday and $171 million in tax cuts already scheduled to take effect – would amount to nearly $450 million in tax relief over the next two years, if approved by the legislature in the upcoming session that opens Wednesday.

Malloy described the plan as a “modest, responsible way to begin reducing the tax burden on Connecticut residents,” who he said Thursday “pay too much in taxes.”

Along with the teacher pension tax break, Malloy’s proposal would exempt municipalities from a tax on insurance premiums, extend a tax credit that encourages start-up investment and implement a two-day state park fee holiday.

The governor also backed a sales tax exemption for non-prescription medications that Republicans in the House of Representatives proposed last week when they released a plan for how to spend the state budget surplus. Malloy would use the surplus to pay for a one-time tax rebate, and will include the other cuts in his budget proposal.

Connecticut is one of only a handful of states that taxes pensions, and Malloy’s plan for the retired teachers would exempt 25 percent of their pensions from the state income tax in 2014, and 50 percent each year after that. The proposal would benefit an estimated 23,000 retirees in Connecticut, but retired teachers who have left the state would not be eligible for the tax break.

Malloy described the pension tax break as “a matter of fairness.” Teachers do not pay into the Social Security system and do not qualify for benefits.

The pension proposal follows Malloy’s announcement earlier this week that he would delay implementation of a controversial teacher evaluation program that ties teacher performance to students’ standardized test scores. The program was a major component of Malloy’s education reform strategy and drew heavy criticism from educators throughout the state.

State Rep. Sean Williams, the ranking Republican on the finance committee, dismissed Malloy’s teacher pension proposal as a “ploy to try and win back the support of teachers.” Educators are a key voting bloc and could be a determining factor in November’s gubernatorial race. Malloy has not announced his plans to seek reelection, but a strong Republican field signals the race is likely to be close.

Williams, who represents Watertown, said Malloy’s embrace of two ideas championed by Republicans — restoring the sales tax exemption on non-prescription drugs and the exemption on clothing items costing less than $50 — is a step in the right direction. The clothing exemption already is scheduled to take effect, but Republicans have called for restoring it by April 1 – sooner than scheduled.

“Credit where credit is due — he recognizes the inherent unfairness of those two taxes,” Williams said. “They hit middle-class people the hardest so a hat tip to him for doing that but let’s not forget he was the one who pushed those things through a few years ago.”

Courant Staff Writer Daniela Altimari contributed to this story