Last week PERS executive director Pat Robertson published an article in the state press responding to criticism of Mississippi’s public employees retirement system. Think Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House.

From the article:

Our funded status means we have approximately 60 percent of the funds needed to pay not only all current benefits, but all projected and future benefits.

Having an unfunded liability is analogous to having a mortgage and making mortgage payments faithfully every month while 60 percent of all the funds needed to pay the entire mortgage is in savings.

Paying off the mortgage might be a desired or even preferred course of action, but having the mortgage is not a crisis…

That’s a ridiculous and misleading analogy. People pay their mortgage with income from their jobs–not savings accounts.

It’s more like someone who has a mortgage and they can only pay 60% of the monthly payment from their current income. They may be able to raid savings to cover the difference for a while, but sooner or later there is going to be hell to pay. Hoping for lighting to strike is not a good strategy.

This also appears to be a pivot for Ms. Robertson. In a 2010 video posted on the the Jackson Jambalaya blog, Robertson said that 80% is considered the benchmark for a well-funded plan.

Keep in mind that in 2011 a commission appointed by Governor Barbour recommended changes to PERS that the State has ignored. Here is the Commission’s report posted on Ya’ll Politics.

I don’t get Robertson’s strategy of defending PERS funding levels. Who said it was her fault? She should be banging the drum for the State to fix it–not pretending like it’s not a problem.