HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The board that oversees the retirement fund for half a million teachers and school employees is once again being criticized Thursday night by a member of the board.
“Publicly funded means your dollars, whether you know it or not or realize it or not, you are funding this pension fund in some capacity,” said PSERS board member Senator Katie Muth (D).
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PSERS, or Public School Employee’s Retirement System, manages more than $72 billion for 500,000 active and retired members. But Senator Muth insists it is not transparent. “It’s really frustrating and infuriating,” she said.
Though there are numerous documents on PSERS website detailing investments and fees, Senator Muth says they are still too complex, too expensive, and too hard to figure out whether the fund’s investing in polluters, predatory lender or anti-union organizations.
“If you are making decisions without all the information that’s really scary because you don’t know what you don’t know,” Senator Muth said.
Another PSERS board member acknowledges past problems like a federal investigation and mistaken calculations that cost teachers more money, but says there has been progress in recent years in reducing Wall Street fees and making those fees more transparent. Plus, the top two officers are leaving.
Change is coming and, for Muth, it is much needed.
“They’ve been one of the worst performing pension systems in the nation for the last ten years,” Senator Muth said.
PSERS disputes that claim and, in a statement, PSERS executive director said she reached out to Senator Muth to ascertain what her questions are and will work to get her answers.