March 2020
Texas Public Pension News
Statement on coronavirus from TEXPERS Executive Director Art Alfaro
On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, an international health emergency. As the Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems, TEXPERS, continues to plan trustee training on May 2 and its 31st Annual Conference May 3-6 on Galveston Island, staff and board members are monitoring the rapidly changing situation related to the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19. Absent federal travel restrictions and/or local, state, or regional decisions to close venues, TEXPERS has not canceled its trustee training or annual conference.
Texas Teachers set to expand investment staff
The Teacher Retirement System of Texas is adding staff as it seeks to cut investment costs, according to documents for its Feb. 20 board meeting.
The backstory: Public pensions in Texas
Public pensions have been an integral part of the Lone Star State for a long time. The Teachers Retirement System of Texas (TRS)—one of the twenty largest pension systems in the  world —dates back to the  late 1930s , following voter approval of an amendment to the Texas Constitution. Even in its first year, TRS had well over 35,000 participants, and it currently has over a million active and retired members. Texas’ other major statewide public pension system, the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS), has deep roots, too, as it was created in the  late 1940s .

Over the next several decades, both plans expanded to respond to key needs.
Why the police, fire pension system felt it had no choice but to sue Dallas over missing millions
The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, not long ago  teetering on the edge of insolvency  with an unfunded liability around $3 billion, has taken City Hall to court over $2 million meant for military veterans.
Texas Municipal's Chris Schelling says farewell to public pension life
Christopher Schelling will depart the $31 billion Texas Municipal Retirement System to join another ex-public pension investor’s firm, Windmuehle Funds.

Windmuehle (pronounced ‘windmill’) manages the personal assets of many wealthy institutional investors, Schelling said in a Tuesday interview. He joins April 27 as a managing director.
TEXPERS' Pension Observer magazine
Did you miss the most recent edition of TEXPERS' membership magazine in your mailbox? No worries. Here is our  digital version .
Mark Your Calendar
Attend TEXPERS' 31st Annual Conference for education and fun
Attending TEXPERS' conference is one of the best things you can do for your service to a public employee retirement plan as an administrators, trustee or investment manager.

By attending sessions, listening to speakers, and talking with your peers, you'll have the opportunity to learn about industry trends, gain some new skills, and maike all kinds of new connections. Some of you may even register to attend pre-conference trustee training classes scheduled for May 2 to fulfill some state-mandated minimum education requirements.

Network while playing golf during TEXPERS' Annual Conference
TEXPERS is hosting a golf tournament May 3 at Moody Gardens Golf Course during the association's 31st Annual Conference on Galveston Island. Members are invited to register to network during a 7 a.m. breakfast. The tournament has a 8 a.m. shotgun start.

Election Results & Legislative News
See who won in Texas' Super Tuesday primary races
Super Tuesday has come and gone. Click "Read more" below to see our election updates compiled from various state and news agencies as well as from TEXPERS staff and affiliate reports on election day.
Jerry McGinty named next director of Legislative Budget Board
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen issued a joint statement today announcing their appointment of Jerry E. McGinty II, of Huntsville, as the next director of the Legislative Budget Board:

“Speaker Bonnen and I have been looking for a leader for the LBB who brings both broad experience and fiscal expertise and Jerry fits that bill,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. “His extensive experience overseeing the budgetary operations of a major state agency as well as his experience working with both the Texas House and Senate make him uniquely qualified for the job. McGinty headed up the budget team for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and served as its Deputy Chief Financial Officer before assuming his current job as Chief Financial Officer there.

“Jerry has the management skills and the extensive experience needed to fulfill the LBB’s core mission of serving and advising lawmakers on prudent fiscal options for our state. I believe he will build a dynamic organization that will ensure that our fiscal position remains strong and that taxpayer dollars are managed wisely.”
Gov. Abbott announces staff hires and changes
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made several staff changes within his office, including hiring a new deputy chief of staff and the promotion of a staffer to communications director.

Pension fund administrators and trustees often communicate with state legislators and their staff members to advocate for the secure retirement of public employees. It's important to know who is who in various legislative offices. Keep this update on hand when reaching out to the governor's office.
Studies and Research
S&P Global report on Texas statewide pension plans
Among the greatest credit pressures facing the state are the management and funding progress of its pension systems as well as its other postemployment benefit liability. While the pressure is manageable at this time, the state will face increasing pressure to allocate additional resources to sufficiently fund its proportionate share of its liabilities for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the Employees Retirement System of Texas. Absent meaningful legislative action, the weight of the state's pension systems will likely add budgetary and credit pressure. However, Texas' overall credit fundamentals remain strong, supported by favorable demographics, broad and diversified economic expansion, and strong budgetary performance and financial oversight.

An introduction to police and fire pensions
The brief’s key findings are:
  • Pension and retiree health benefits for public safety workers are more expensive than those of other local government workers, largely due to earlier retirement ages.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, though, their retirement benefits make up only a very small share of total local government spending.
  • Some evidence suggests that public safety workers could work longer, which may have implications for plans’ retirement age.
  • However, raising retirement ages would have little impact on government finances, particularly since it might involve higher wages to maintain a quality workforce.
How does the public health workforce compare with the broader public sector?
The state and local governmental public health workforce plays a critical role in protecting and improving the lives of the individuals it serves. As is the case with state and local employment generally, the workforce in public health is changing. Recruitment and retention of the next wave of employees presents challenges, particularly at a time of continued retirements, low unemployment, and competition from the private sector for talented graduates and other career entrants.
Public pension benefit spending provides substantial economic impact on rural communities and small towns
As many small towns and rural communities across America face shrinking populations and slowing economic growth, a new report finds that one positive economic contributor to these areas is the flow of benefit dollars from public pension plans. In 2018, public pension benefit dollars represented between one and three percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on average among the 1,401 counties in 19 states studied.

These findings are detailed in a new study released today by the National Institute on Retirement Security,  Fortifying Main Street: The Economic Benefit of Public Pension Dollars in Small Towns and Rural America .
U.S. Public Pension News
Public pension plans are changing -- how does that affect participants?
As  public retirement systems  work to improve the efficiency of pension funds, the effects on employees vary from lower fees and higher contributions to higher age and service requirements.
Note: Link may require site registration to access article.
‘Data incident’ exposes 1,000 PERS accounts to other members
A “data incident” during the weekend of Feb. 15 allowed about 1,000 state pension recipients in Oregon   to temporarily see other members’ information.
$79B Georgia pension allowed to invest in alternatives for first time
The Teachers Retirement System of Georgia has been given the go-ahead by state legislators to invest in alternatives.  

The retirement system, which  had a total of $78.89 billion under management  as of June 30, 2019, has been investing only in equities and fixed income up to this point, a rarity in the world of U.S. public pension funds.
Economic & Investment News
Coronavirus could spark a global recession
The coronavirus outbreak and the economic fallout it has sparked could plunge the economy into a recession, experts say. Confidence is waning that the U.S. economy – in the midst of a historic run of expansion dating back more than a decade – will be able to withstand the complex headwinds generated by the virus.

However, few predict a recession is an absolute certainty.
Experts say COVID-19 could hurt Texas trade and border economy
Economists monitoring the potential effects of the coronavirus on Texas’ international trade are adopting the tone of health officials: Be prepared, be prudent, but don't panic. But they believe it’s only a matter of time before a major disruption in the global supply chain impacts the state’s economy.
Texas tops the U.S. in commercial building impact and jobs
Oil and cattle have long been the touchstones of Texas business. But real estate also generates big bucks for the Lone Star State.

Commercial property activity generated more than $54 billion in Texas economic output in 2019 — more than any other U.S. state, according to a new report by the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks.
No SXSW means no economic boost for Austin, Texas
South by Southwest, the massive film, music and technology conference that happens in Austin, Texas, every March, has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. The festival organizers  announced on Feb. 6  that “the City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU.”

It’s the first time in 34 years that the festival will not go ahead.
Aging & Retirement
Pre-retirement debt is rising over time
Baby boomers have a lot more debt than their parents did.

By all accounts, the parents were in pretty good shape for retirement because they held their debt levels down to a mere 4 percent of their total assets in the years immediately before retiring – ages 56 to 61 – according to a  new study .
Hypertension, arthritis? Keep working!
The growing list of effective medications available for managing a variety of chronic conditions seem to be changing the way we work and retire.

For example, older workers at one company who suffer from arthritis and high blood pressure – two relatively easy conditions to treat – are able to keep working just like their healthier co-workers, according to a  new study  from a research consortium funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration.
About Us 
The Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems (TEXPERS) is a statewide voluntary nonprofit association that provides education and legislative advisory services to the trustees, administrators, professional service providers and employee groups that manage the retirement money of police, firefighters, municipal and district employees in cities across Texas.