Potential changes to the Public Employees Retirement system has Democrats and Republicans at arms.

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PERS Study Commission Drawing Fire From Retirees and Democrats

By Daniel Cherry | Published 02 Nov 2011 10:50pm | comments

The state employee's retirement system has turned into a major issue before the upcoming elections. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on the growing concern among some public employees about the future of their retirement.

A group of incumbent legislators and candidates for the House of Representatives are holding meetings to address the increased concerns about the Public Employee's Retirement System, or PERS. Rick Anderson is a 25 year retired art teacher. He attended a meeting last night in Jackson because he's worried about a PERS study commission created by the governor taking control from the PERS board.

"I think the PERS board does a good job. They've already made some changes and I think they're on top of everything. If the control of PERS is put into the hands of our Mississippi state legislature, I'm concerned about how it will go from there."

Governor Barbour created the PERS study commission because he says there are concerns about the sustainability of the program. Republican Senator Michael Watson says lawmakers are trying to be proactive about the issue.

"If you look at it, it's 64% funded. Obviously it's 7 to 8 to 10 billion dollars short. There's some problems there. The PERS board has asked for increases and there's going to be another increase coming up in January and some increases down the road that we see that they've been requesting already."

Other lawmakers say PERS is successful and shouldn't be tampered with. Democratic Representative Cecil Brown says he doesn't see the need for concern from Republicans.

""The Governor has his opinion and the experts have their opinion. The experts say it is sustainable. I have a booklet handed out at a meeting recently where the executive director of PERS says it is sustainable. I believe it's sustainable. The legislature is going to do whatever it is we have to do to make it sustainable.

The results from the PERS study commission won't be released until after the November 8th election.

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