Public Pensions Roundtable Recap: Notes from the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board

June 14, 2013 by

As the Vice President of the Executive Board of the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys (NAPPA), I was invited to attend the June 11, 2013, Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) Public Pensions Roundtable in Alexandria, Va. 

With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, the MSRB's mission now expressly includes the protection of municipal entities, which include pension plans. The MSRB has stated that it recognizes the complexity of the public pension sector and is seeking to leverage the knowledge and expertise of market participants by bringing together various organizations with an interest in public pension plan financing, valuation and disclosure in order to advance understanding of issues affecting public pension plans. The MSRB's focus is on disclosure and the regulation of municipal advisors. The MSRB cannot directly regulate public pensions.

In addition to NAPPA, the roundtable was attended by a variety of national organizations, including the following:

  • AARP
  • Financial Services Institute
  • Internal Association of Firefighters
  • International Personnel Management Association for Human Resources
  • National Association of Counties
  • National Association of State Treasurers
  • National Association of Bond Lawyers
  • National Association of Police Organizations
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
  • National Council on Teacher Retirement
  • National Education Association
  • National Governors Association
  • National Institute on Retirement Security
  • Council on Institutional Investors
  • National School Boards Association
  • Public Pension Financial Forum
  • American Academy of Actuaries

The first half of the roundtable included an overview of pension funding and state budget issues, a presentation regarding the new GASB 67 and 68 statements and a presentation by Moody's Investors Service about the "State and Local Pension Adjustments" that have been adopted. The afternoon session included four presentations, which took the some of the theoretical aspects from the morning session and translated those aspects into real life situations. These real life situations covered municipal bankruptcies, bond disclosure document, Tennessee's pension legislation and specific changes in plan funding levels.

Comments from participating representatives covered a broad range of issues, but there was agreement among attendees that the variety of plan funding measures may create confusion rather than greater transparency and that certain pension reforms will affect the retirement readiness of state and local government employees in the wake of pension reform.  Participants were also interested in understanding the extent to which the MSRB would attempt to influence public pension plan operations.

If you would like to have more detail about this roundtable, please contact me.

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