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Pension solutions demand compromise

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By Sherry Robinson

We know that New Mexico’s two biggest public retirement systems are sliding toward insolvency. The Educational Retirement Board is looking into a $5.9 billion abyss between its assets and the benefits it will have to pay. The Public Employee Retirement Association faces an even bigger gap of $6.2 billion.
Those numbers will probably get bigger as new information comes out.
To find solutions, the Legislature in 2011 created the interim legislative Investments and Pensions Oversight Committee, chaired by Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup. It dutifully heard testimony and introduced bills, but there was little consensus. Curiously, the PERA didn’t even offer a plan.
“I can’t figure out why people don’t want to fix the problem today instead of every single year kicking it down the road because at some point we’re going to be in so much trouble. That’s my biggest fight,” Muñoz said during the last session.
Lately, we’ve seen a greater sense of urgency and real momentum. The news is that the committee and unions have approved plans from both the ERB and PERA.