Tennessee pension system boasts historic investment earnings

Link: https://www.timesnews.net/news/state/tennessee-pension-system-boasts-historic-investment-earnings/article_458bf20e-b7a6-5007-a1ff-246bf738f846.html

Excerpt:

TCRS made $13.6 billion in fiscal 2021; a record high in earnings that put the balance of TCRS’ investments at $65.3 billion. In fiscal 2020, the system had a 4.94% return and finished the fiscal year with a balance of $53.4 billion. The Tennessee Department of Treasury said that return outearned its peers by four times the median 1.2% return during the fiscal year.

“When retirement plans around the nation are under scrutiny for their performance, TCRS is thriving,” Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard said. “Our Governor and General Assembly ensure the plan is fully funded every year. The Tennessee Department of Treasury strives to be good stewards of the state’s financial resources. This $13.6 billion in investment income is evidence of our commitment to both active and retired members of the TCRS pension plan.”

Author(s): Jon Styf, The Center Square

Publication Date: 7 October 2021

Publication Site: Times News

The Music City Meltdown

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-music-city-meltdown-11619649990

Excerpt:

Like many cities, Nashville is also in hock to pensioners, with $4.3 billion in unfunded promises for retiree healthcare. And though Nashville’s pension system is well-funded, it is also expensive to maintain because employees contribute almost nothing, leaving taxpayers on the hook for about $110 million in annual contributions—and potentially more when investments tank. Despite the burden, the city resisted adopting reforms the state enacted in 2013, when Tennessee switched to a pension plan that requires employees to contribute 5% of their wages.

Nashville’s balance sheet wasn’t in any shape to endure a massive pandemic hit. Led by a 50% decline in tourism, the city’s economy slumped last spring, and unemployment soared above 15%. That punched a $332 million hole in the fiscal 2021 budget, prompting then-Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson to warn in September of a state takeover. The city could become “kind of like a teenager coming to their parent asking for $20 to go to the movies,” he said.

Author(s): Steven Malanga

Publication Date: 28 April 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Tensions over vaccine equity pit rural against urban America

Link: https://nypost.com/2021/03/01/tensions-over-vaccine-equity-pit-rural-against-urban-america/

Excerpt:

The U.S. vaccine campaign has heightened tensions between rural and urban America, where from Oregon to Tennessee to upstate New York complaints are surfacing of a real — or perceived — inequity in vaccine allocation.

In some cases, recriminations over how scarce vaccines are distributed have taken on partisan tones, with rural Republican lawmakers in Democrat-led states complaining of “picking winners and losers,” and urbanites traveling hours to rural GOP-leaning communities to score COVID-19 shots when there are none in their city.

In Oregon, state GOP lawmakers walked out of a Legislative session last week over the Democratic governor’s vaccine plans, citing rural vaccine distribution among their concerns. In upstate New York, public health officials in rural counties have complained of disparities in vaccine allocation and in North Carolina, rural lawmakers say too many doses were going to mass vaccine centers in big cities.

Author(s): Associated Press

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: NY Post

Nashville’s financial health earns it ‘sinkhole city’ designation

Link: https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/news/state/nashvilles-financial-health-earns-it-sinkhole-city-designation/article_bc49b4a1-8c1f-5f63-a129-31093266adfe.html

Excerpt:

Nashville recently was named a “Bottom 5 Sinkhole City” by the nonpartisan think tank Truth in Accounting (TIA) in its fifth annual Financial State of the Cities report.

TIA examined the fiscal health of the 75 most-populous U.S. cities and graded and ranked the cities accordingly. The 2021 report is based on fiscal year 2019 comprehensive annual financial reports.

“At the end of the fiscal year 2019, 62 cities did not have enough money to pay all their bills,” the report’s executive summary read. “This means that to balance the budget, elected officials did not include the true costs of the government in their budget calculations and have pushed costs onto future taxpayers.”

Author(s): The Center Square

Publication Date: 13 February 2021

Publication Site: Johnson City Press