State Treasurer Candidates Weigh In On PERSBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 24 Oct 2011 04:53pm |
The state's public employee retirement system is turning into a central issue in thestate treasurer's. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the treasurer could play a major role in the future of the system.
PERS has become a political hot button issue since Governor Haley Barbour formed a commission to look for possible changes to the system.
At a Stennis press luncheon in Jackson yesterday, Ocean Springs Mayor and democratic candidate Connie Moran promised to keep the system as it is....including the popular annual cost of living adjustment known as the thirteenth check.
"I am anxious to see the recommendations of the Governor's commission but I am not in favor of morphing it into a 401K. I do believe the state needs to honor its promise to state, county and city employees and the thousands of retirees," Moran said.
Her Republican opponent and head of the State Personnel Board Lynn Fitch is also voicing support for PERS, saying the state needs to honor its commitments.
"I think we have a very sound system. I think you will see that if you look across this country almost all states are having some issues just because of the economy and the downturn, which has affected retirement systems all across our nation. But ours is very finely managed and has done an outstanding job remaining sound," Fitch said.
The issue is important because the state treasurer sits on the PERS board.
During her speech, Moran accused Fitch of being too partisan because she is a Haley Barbour appointee.
"Who will my opponent march to on this issue, if elected? Will it be the people and the current state retirees and the current state, county and city employees? Will it be for our teachers, our police and our fire fighters? Or will she be dancing to the tune of a political party," Moran said.
Fitch says political party will have nothing to do with her decisions as treasurer.
"I have been very involved in different arenas of state government as well as in the private sector. So I bring all those different principals rolled up in my application to the job as state treasurer," Fitch said.
Both candidates say they will be open to reviewing recommendations of the committee when they are released after the election.
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