Judicial Retirement Plans/Pensions 2011: Midwestern States

Illinois HB 146 Caps the highest salary for annuity purposes, final rate of earnings, final average compensation, and final average salary for current members, participants, and participating employees of the Judges’ Retirement System at $106,800 (Current Circuit Judge’s Salary: $178,835), Authorizes that amount to be annually increased by the lesser of 3% or one-half of the annual percentage increase in the consumer price index-u. Requires employee contributions to also be based on these capped amounts.

Illinois HB 1447 Provides that, for persons who first become participants of Judges’ Retirement System after the effective date of the Act: (i) the automatic annual increases in participant and survivor annuities shall be at the rate of 3% or one-half the annual unadjusted percentage increase (but not less than zero) in the consumer price index-u, whichever is less, of the originally granted retirement annuity (rather than at the rate of 3% or the annual unadjusted percentage increase in the consumer price index-u, whichever is less, of the annuity then being paid) and (ii) the annual increases in highest salary for annuity purposes and final average salary shall be at the rate of the lesser of 3% or one-half the annual unadjusted percentage increase (but not less than zero) in the consumer price index-u (rather than at the rate of the lesser of 3% or the annual unadjusted percentage increase in the consumer price index-u).

Illinois HB 1959 Allows persons who first became or become members of Judges’ Retirement System on or after January 1, 2011 to elect to participate in a self-managed program of retirement benefits instead of the program of reformed retirement benefits currently offered. Provides that a self-managed plan shall authorize a participant to accumulate assets for retirement through a combination of employer and employee contributions that may be invested at the participant’s direction in mutual funds, collective investment funds, or other investment products and used to purchase annuity contracts. Requires the Judges’ Retirement System to make the self-managed plan available within 6 months after the effective date of the Act. Provides that, to the extent that the changes made by the Act are determined to be a new benefit increase under the new benefit increase provisions, the changes are exempt from the 5-year expiration provision.

Illinois HR 31 Urges the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) to (i) competitively bid for an auditing firm to conduct an audit of the Judges’ Retirement System and all other State-funded Pension and Retirement Systems, (ii) report the auditing firm’s findings to the General Assembly and Governor within 1 year after the adoption of the resolution, and (iii) publish the auditing firm’s findings on the COGFA website.

Illinois HR 101 Directs the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the Judges’ Retirement System and all other State-funded retirement systems to discover (i) what the anticipated savings to those systems will be as a result of the pension reforms enacted last year and (ii) whether any employees or officers of those systems have made false or materially misleading public statements about those anticipated savings.

Illinois HR 149 Directs Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability study the impact of time and interest on the underfunding of the Judges’ Retirement System and all other State-funded retirement systems.

Illinois SB 29 For those already members of Judges’ Retirement System, adds provisions concerning the annuity rate of accrual, annuity calculations, automatic annual increases, and survivors’ annuities. With respect to later entrants (members who first become members on or after July 1, 2011), adds provisions concerning creditable service, conditions for eligibility, amount of annuities, automatic annual increases, survivors’ annuities, and refunds. Defines “salary”, “earnings”, “compensation”, and “wages” for periods of service on and after July 1, 2011 for any Judges’ Retirement System member.

Illinois SR 83 Urges the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) to (i) competitively bid for an auditing firm to conduct an audit of the Judges’ Retirement System and all other State-funded Pension and Retirement Systems, (ii) report the auditing firm’s findings to the General Assembly and Governor within 1 year after the adoption of the resolution, and (iii) publish the auditing firm’s findings on the COGFA website.

Indiana HB 1048 Establishes a defined contribution plan (plan) as an option for new state employees. A state employee who does not elect to become a member of the plan becomes a member of the public employees’ retirement fund (PERF). Requires the PERF board of trustees (PERF board) to establish the same investment options for the plan that are available for the investment of a PERF member’s annuity savings account. Provides that a member’s contribution to the plan is 3% of the member’s compensation and is paid by the state on behalf of the member. Provides that the state’s employer contribution rate for the plan is equal to the state’s employer contribution rate for PERF. Provides that the amount credited from the employer’s contribution rate to the member’s account shall not be greater than PERF’s normal cost with any amount not credited to the member’s account applied to PERF’s unfunded accrued liability. Establishes a minimum state employer contribution of 3% of the members’ compensation. Establishes a five year vesting schedule for employer contributions, and requires a member who terminates state employment before the member is fully vested to forfeit amounts that are not vested. Requires that the PERF board specify by rule the interest rate credited to a participant’s contributions for the judges’ retirement system. Provides that a judge or a magistrate who is a participant in the judges’ retirement system and who purchases prior PERF service credit waives credit for the PERF service only for the amount of PERF service purchased.  Urges the legislative council to assign to the pension management oversight commission the study of whether to create a defined contribution plan as an option for new employees of political subdivisions that participate in PERF and for new employees who are eligible to become members of the teachers’ retirement fund.

Indiana SB 12 Requires, after December 31, 2011, that an employer of participants in the judges’ retirement system submit contributions, reports, and records electronically. Authorizes the PERF board of trustees to establish due dates for contributions, reports, and records submitted by an employer.

Indiana SB 76 Requires that the board of trustees of the public employees’ retirement fund (PERF) specify by rule the interest rate credited to a participant’s contributions for: the judges’ retirement system. Provides that a judge or a magistrate who is a participant in the judges’ retirement system and who purchases prior service credit in PERF waives credit for the PERF service only for the amount of PERF service purchased.

Indiana SB 549 Establishes the Indiana public retirement system (system) to administer and manage judges’ retirement fund, public employees’ retirement fund, and either other funds. Provides that each retirement fund continues as a separate fund managed by the board. Creates a nine member board of trustees (board) for the system appointed by the governor (none need be judges). Establishes transition provisions for trustees/boards of other existing systems. Provides that new hires of the system become public employees’ retirement fund members, unless the system director expressly determines otherwise. Allows the board to establish contribution rate groups for PERF, and removes the requirement that each employer have a separate account within the retirement allowance account.

Nebraska LB 251 Increases court fees by $20. Directs some of additional funds to Retirement Fund for Judges.

Nebraska LB 509 Modifies language in the Judges Retirement Act to clarify that members receive the highest cost-of-living (COLA) method identified in current statutes. Creates new section in the Judges’ Retirement Act that reorganizes current cost-of-living provisions and places all the existing language into one section.

Nebraska LB 679 Provides all new judges elected/appointed after July 1, 2011 are members of the State Employees Retirement System (i.e the State Cash
Balance Plan,) instead of the current judges defined benefit plan.

North Dakota SB 2108 ORIGINAL: For judge’s retirement system, requires member contributions increase by one percent of the judge’s monthly salary beginning with the monthly reporting period of January 2012, and increase annually thereafter by an additional one percent, with the final increase taking place beginning with the reporting period of January 2015. AMENDED: Same, but changes January 2015 date to January 2013.

Wisconsin AB 11 (Special Session) (For prior blog post on subject, see here)

North Dakota State of the Judiciary

Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle gave his State of the Judiciary to a joint session of the North Dakota legislature earlier today. (Update: No formal resolution appears to have been adopted, instead a motion was made on the floors to convene in joint session for the speech. See the respective House and Senate journals). The text of the speech is here. Here are some highlights:

The North Dakota Constitution requires the Governor to “present information on the condition of the state, together with any recommended legislation, to every regular and special session of the legislative assembly.” N.D. Const. art. V, § 7. By contrast, the Chief Justice appears before the Assembly to present the state of the Judiciary by invitation of the Legislative Assembly. I perhaps should not tell you this, but it may surprise you to learn that delivering a State of the Judiciary message is not a privilege all of my colleagues in other states share. I do not take this privilege for granted and I recognize your already heavy schedule. The invitation to speak to you today is indicative of the spirit of cooperation and respect that our three branches of government in our state share. I thank you for that.

For the Judicial Branch, the State of the Judiciary is an opportunity to pose to the Legislature and the Executive the operations and goals of the Judiciary and the opportunity for you to examine those goals and operations. But that is but a small part of the interbranch relationship. For example, during the year we have the benefit of the wisdom and advice of legislators and executive branch representatives on court committees. The advice and input we receive from representatives of the other branches are invaluable to our policy-making decisions. In turn, several judicial branch officials serve on and advise legislative and executive branch committees; and issues arise within the other two branches of government that require the attention, consideration and cooperation of the Judicial Branch to resolve.

I take a few minutes now to update you on these projects and to touch upon some other areas of concern.

Task Force To Study Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts

Mediation Pilot Program

Parenting Coordinator Program

Problem Solving Courts

Study Resolution on Elder Issues

Supreme Court Facilities

Cost-Sharing for District Court Space

Case Management System