Governor Nixon hopes to shake up the operations of the retirement system for 80,000 present or retired state workers because the people in charge got richer last year while the retirement system got a lot poorer. .
Last year, the Missouri State Employees Retirement system lost 1.8-billion dollars, almost one-fourth of the pension fund’s value. Nonetheless, all 72 employees of MOSERS got bonuses totaling 460-thousand dollars, about one-fourth of that going to the Chief Investment officer. Governor Nixon says, "Over the past two weeks, it has become clear to me that the Missouri State Employees Retirement system is not acting in the public’s best interests." A St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation has led to a series of articles about the agency that, as reporter Virginia Young has written, "operates without the usual public scrutiny." Nixon says the whole operation needs an overhaul. He says the bonuses were the wrong thing to do at the wrong time. He calls the bonuses "unconscionable" at a time when the fund was recording a record loss. Governors can appoint two members of the MOSERS board. Nixon has appointed former state legislators Travis Morrison of West Plains and David Steelman of Rolla to replace two Blunt administration appointees. Other members of the board are two state senators, two representatives, the State Treasurer and the Commissioner of Administration plus three representatives of state employees, one of which has to be retired. Steelman’s wife, Sarah, was a MOSERS board member for four years while she was State Treasurer. Nixon says he expects them to put the system under harsh scrutiny. The Governor won’t say if he thinks any heads should roll at MOSERS. But he says Morrison and Steelman will bring more oversight and transparency to the agency.
Upload part of Nixon’s news conference (5:21 mp3)