In response to Sheryl R. Abshire’s letter “Ensuring La. teachers a retirement for the long term,” I would appreciate more detailed information and data from the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. Her letter simply uses large numbers that she hopes will sound impressive.
Abshire indicates the system’s investments have grown from $3.9 billion 24 years ago to $16.7 billion today. $16.7 billion sounds exciting, but this amount of money is only enough to cover 57.4 percent of the system’s liabilities. In our school systems, a mark of 57 percent represents a failing grade.
In the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), the funding ratio is also only provided for the previous two years. On the TRSL website, the last data available is from 2012, when the plan was funded at 55.4 percent. If Abshire is proud of her record over 24 years, the system should provide all of the available previous reports.
Abshire also speaks highly about the alternative investment portion of TRSL, but the data in the CAFR paints a different story.
In 2014, TRSL spent over $43.2 million on adviser fees for its alternative investments but recorded only $34.6 million in alternative investment income. Spending more on fees for alternative investments than income takes money away from teachers and distributes it to financial advisers. Over the same time period, the S&P 500, which represents a large section of the domestic stock market, returned 22 percent. TRSL should seriously consider joining systems like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in exiting alternative investments.
Teachers are not covered under Social Security and rely on TRSL for a secure and stable retirement. They deserve to be given the best information possible, not misleading numbers and inadequate information.
Brian St. George