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Public’s right to know undercut by some pension systems

DECEMBER 11, 2014 | THE HERALD-DISPATCH (WEST VIRGINIA)

Editorial, includes “It seems lawmakers and pension officials in some states, including Kentucky, have forgotten whom they work for. Apparently, they are in sore need of a reminder that they are employed to serve the public and, as such, how they conduct their business should be open to scrutiny by the public.

… Driving the attention has been a likely request to spend billions more to shore up the funds that cover pensions for state workers and teachers. With that backdrop, some want to know more about how the pension funds operate. As of now, Kentucky law allows the systems to operate partly shielded from the public.

For example, the public is not allowed to know how much is paid out to individual retirees, nor does the systems have to reveal how much they pay out in fees to individual hedge fund managers who are investing the pension money and other external investment advisers. But we do know they are paying out hefty sums, to the tune of $55 million last year to investment management firms. The public has a right to know both of those aspects of the pension system.

A Kentucky city, Fort Wright, and a Louisville teacher have filed lawsuits this year demanding greater transparency after their requests for information from Kentucky Retirement Systems were rejected. The same issue is playing out in several other states, including California, Illinois and Rhode Island, where how much is being spent on investment managers' fees has been kept secret.”

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