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Media underreports the truth about Idaho's pension system

Media underreports the truth about Idaho's pension system

Mitch Coffman
January 11, 2013

A widely-publicized story the first week of the 2013 legislative session reported that Idaho's pension system is doing better, bouncing back and exceeding expectations with a 7.44 percent rate of return so far in January.

What isn’t mentioned is that the pension system produced a lackluster yearlong rate of return of just 1.62 percent in the fiscal year ending June 2012. The story goes on to discuss the pension system's unfunded liability, which the state pegs at $1.6 billion, but which organizations that track public pension performance, the American Enterprise Institute and State Budget Solutions, say is probably higher because Idaho bases its unfunded liability on forecasted returns instead of actual returns.

The story also inaccurately says Idaho taxpayers will be paying $2 million more because of increased contribution rates into the pension system by government agencies. The figure is closer to $13 million.

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