Tate Reeves Releases Letter to the Editor in Response to Bill Minor Column

Below is a letter to the editor that is being sent from Tate Reeves to Mississippi newspapers who ran Bill Minor’s column today and yesterday.

###

February 11, 2011
Letter to the Editor from Tate Reeves in response to Bill Minor’s column

Mr. Minor is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own set of facts.

As usual, Bill Minor has written a column that is full of inaccuracies. Please allow me to set the record straight on a few issues he raises.

FACT: None of the total $10 billion dollars from the Katrina Recovery and the Obama stimulus has ever been deposited in any state banks because of the CMIA (Cash Management Improvement Act) agreement between all states and the U.S Treasury Department. When state agencies expend funds, they contact the federal government to draw down funds for reimbursement. Under this agreement, agencies are required to draw down funds in a short period of time, because interest cannot be earned.

FACT: The state’s guaranteed college tuition plan is not in trouble. MPACT currently has more than $250 million in investments and annual tuition payments of less than $18 million. That means that even if the markets stay flat, we have 15 or more years of money available to pay tuition. Despite the recent downturn in the markets, our funding status has increased from 72% in 2009 to 75% in 2010. We also anticipate that tuition is going to increase. That is factored into our actuarial assumptions as we carefully monitor the performance of this plan each year. As contract sales continue to be steady and the market recovers, the plan is in good shape. The plan is providing a savings vehicle for 25,000 Mississippi families.

FACT: The PERS (Public Employees’ Retirement System) Board does not have the authority to invest in a land trust as Mr. Minor advocates. The Board must invest according to statutory requirements, which earned the fund a 14.1% return in 2010.

FACT: House and Senate leaders meet frequently with the PERS Executive Director, employees receive frequent newsletters, there have been numerous news reports, Board Meetings are open to the public, and the PERS web site contains a wealth of information, all of which provide transparency surrounding the management of PERS.

FACT: The Legislature authorizes debt, and the three-member Bond Commission is responsible for issuance of this debt. Since Governor Barbour and I have been in office, our state has primarily issued debt for infrastructure and economic development projects, which are designed to create job growth and increased revenue for the state. In fact, 53% of the debt issued in FY2011 was for economic development, 63% in FY2010, and 60% in FY2009. The Moody’s report to which Mr. Minor refers is the first report where pensions and debt have been combined. Several states, including Mississippi, are reviewing the methodology used in compiling the report. The report appears to have included city and county obligations for which the state is not responsible and omitted the amount employees are paying into the fund from its calculations.

OPINION: As for those “lawmakers and others in government” who give me “high marks for smarts” and “low marks on personality,” that’s probably because I’m not always going to do what the Democrat leaders of the House tell me to do. I think Mississippians deserve a strong, independent, fiscal conservative as Treasurer. I have been a watchdog for taxpayers, and I will continue to be.

Sincerely,

Tate Reeves