The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel continues to lead on its home page with this "State's Pension Strongest in Nation

" article (, but going through it paragraph by paragraph, I'm not exaggerating, it may be the most dishonest, most deceptive article about the WRS out there, even worse than the Cap Times! This is Lewis Carroll "Alice in Wonderland" faux-journalism... PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH THROUGH THIS AMAZING ARTICLE: "More impressively, Wisconsin got those high marks for its pension funding for fiscal year 2010 - before Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers required public employees to contribute more for their pension and work longer hours and more years to qualify for one." (Automatically extracting what ever is needed to fund the system from taxpayers is not "impressive." It's simply automatic funding regardless of circumstances. and the funding would still "fully-funded" regardless of new service requirement for part-time, and vesting requirement by Gov. Walker.) "Really in every metric, you're doing better than other states. . . . It means you can tell taxpayers and businesses you're going to be paying for the services you're getting, not the services that past generations have been getting," said David Draine, a senior researcher at the Pew Center on the States. (Factually wrong, ignores the fact that majority of retirees are at-orapproaching Core Fund base amounts, and if we have a simple global recession sometime over next couple of years, the taxpayers WILL dig deep to pay for previous retirees, as those guaranteed pensions have to be paid.) "But compared to the rest of the country, Wisconsin has more reason to celebrate than to panic." (What???!!! The WRS refuses to address a formula calculation that guarantees monthly amounts that don't fit today's financial results; the WRS continues to insist on using 7.2% as the assumed rate, because if they don't they have to tell taxpayers they have to kick in even more; the WRS refuses to address "pension spiking" which is out of control with UW/teachers/city workers, etc.; the "total normal cost" is going to have its FIFTH increase in 2013, and taxpayers WILL have to kick in substantially more in 2013 than 2012; system has an open-ended taxpayer liability, which one more global financial crisis can send the system down; the WRS uses the public-pension accounting rules, which even Time magazine says should be illegal., etc. etc. etc.)

"To make up the gap, the other 49 states will have to set aside more tax dollars, cut future benefits or raise contribution rates for current employees, or resort to legally questionable strategies to siphon away cost of living adjustments for current retirees." (The outright lie, the smoking gun in the whole dishonest article -- "the other 49 states will have to set aside more tax dollars"??? We just had the WRS admit last week that the total normal cost is going to leap next year, because of funding needs, and taxpayers will be paying 6.6% match or more of general/teacher pay in 2013, compared to 5.9% in 2012. What the hell are they talking about? Local governments and school districts are going to have to raise taxes or cut services to meet this obligation of paying more to the WRS!!) "It's pretty clear that the Wisconsin retirement system is a model for the nation in terms of its long-term health," said Jim Palmer, who serves as both the chairman of the Wisconsin Coalition of Annuitants, a group representing retirees and workers in the state pension system, and as the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. (Blah, blah, blah. Vicki, this is the same clown who had a union thug from "We Are One -Ilinois" give a presentation at the WPPA convention recently about the Koch Brothers taking away worker rights, etc." "Since 2009, investment returns in the state funds have been more favorable, but the state has yet to catch up with the losses from 2008, when the state's Core Fund lost 26%. Next year, retirees could be in for another significant reduction in their payments." (This and the previous paragraphs fail to state the fact that ALL retirees have a floor amount on the pension amount, and that most are already at their floor or approaching it. The article implies that all retirees will see a decrease if necessary, but just the opposite is true - TAXPAYERS will kick in more to fund the guaranteed floor amounts if necessary.) "Pensioners in the system retire on average at just under 61 years of age and receive median payments of $20,900 a year." (Truly deceptive, as "pensioners" in the system includes many, many people who work only a few years. We have people at UW or management in various public employers and get a monthly pension with only 3 to 5 years of work. These people who get those smaller monthly amounts are still considered "pensioners" in the system and bring down the median payment amount. Plus, taxpayers don't know that the WRS pension is IN ADDITTION to social security, not offsetting it in any way. A lot of people think the WRS is instead of social security.)

"The Pew report relied on states' own assumptions about what it would take to fund their systems, including how much they will earn in investment returns. Over time, Wisconsin expects to earn 7.2% a year in investment returns, compared to the 8% that is typical for most state pension systems, Draine said." (Is Mr. Draine a clueless dope? Or is he getting paid under-the-table by the WRS? The 8% number may have been common 5 years ago, but all systems are under pressure to lower it, and many have. But the implication is that 7.2% is a healthy number to use, which we all know is nonsense and is a major problem in the structure of the system. Ask Mayor Bloomberg, or any national financial publication.) Not only is the Wisconsin system not a ticking financial bomb, the state also pays less into its system than most states. (Umm, the ticking financial bomb actually went off in 2008, that is why the total normal cost continues to rise and rise, and the WRS is in a funding problem if all retirees get to that floor amount. Apparently open-ended cost to fund the system is of no concern to these people. Then article goes on to claim that the cost to fund the system is less than other states. The metric used is "percent of government spending" instead of a straight percent of employee pay. What this means is that the more a state spends wildly on other programs, and employee benefits, well, the percent of what the pension directly cost, as a percent of total spending goes down. So, the more the state and local governments spend on various projects and goofy programs, the percent spent on pension is smaller, so the pension amount must be good... "look how it is a small percent of public spending." Just plain nonsense.) "But Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, said that the most pressing retirement issue in Wisconsin is health care, not pensions." (Oh, great so now the WTA buys into all of this, which is demonstratively hogwash, and leave the pension alone, lets look at health care.) (For state employees (health care benefits), Marchant said the state's obligations are essentially funded, which puts Wisconsin far ahead of many states. However, at the local level, Berry said some school districts and other employers have made promises to pay all or part of the health care for their retirees and haven't necessarily set aside any money to pay for those substantial costs." (Oh, marvelous, here we go again, health insurance benefit for state workers is fully-funded,so leave it alone. Well, it was fully-funded when taxpayers flipped for 100% of it as well, before ACT 10. This "fully-funded" diversion is now going to be used for state worker health care benefits?? That's not the issue, the issue is the cost to taxpayers, just as it is with the pension!!!!!!!!!!!!!")

Oh, and one observation about the Journal-Sentinel article: Nowhere is there a comparison of the cost of the retirement benefits to that of private industry workers... ONLY to the plans of other states and local governments around the country, which are out of control and are going to reined in substantially. An easy comparison benchmark for the WRS to use to justify its current benefits. But not the right one. All of those other state plans are awful in cost to taxpayers and ridiculous benefits to public workers... and that is what the WRS is comparing itself to. One more observation: The fact-box that is attached to the right of the article mentions that New York state is in the top five as far as being "fully-funded" too. But in New York, they are apparently smart enough to know that "fullyfunded" doesn't mean its costs are appropriate for taxpayers. Democrat Gov Cumo is trying to reform the system, by raising retirement age, make employees pay more, put new employees in defined-contribution plan, etc. New York understands the problem. Apparently the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel does not.

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