HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It is the largest pension system in Pennsylvania, nearly half a million current and former teachers are in it and its top two officials announced they were retiring on Thursday.
Change is coming at PSERS, which oversees 72 billion in pension funds for half a million current and retired school employees. Senator Katie Muth (D) who is on the PSERS board says change is needed. “I’d say it’s long overdue but as you know, everything in Government is slow as molasses,” Muth said.
Executive Director Glen Grell, who has led PSERS since 2015, will retire in February. Chief Investment Officer James Grossman, who has been there 24 years, will step down in May. In statements, the PSERS board touted their accomplishments and thanked them for their service. The statements didn’t mention Muth’s lawsuit seeking information that she says is being withheld. “If I can’t get answers from a very large and well-paid investment staff about what x,y, and z fund entails, that’s a problem,” Muth said.
The Justice Department is also investigating for investment miscalculations that’s forced teachers to pay more. “There’s no consequence for investment staff if they make poor or risky investment decisions. Their paychecks aren’t decreasing,” Muth said.
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Muth wants to know what exactly PSERS is investing in. Are they polluters or bad actors? Who’s getting paid for those investments and how much? “It is a lot to unpack. It’s complicated and I think that’s by design so people can’t follow along and it needs to be simplified,” Muth said.
So the search is now on for two new leaders. “Whoever comes in needs to be transparent. There should not be a single board member that doesn’t have questions answered and access to information,” Muth said.
Last year’s PSERS investment returns were more than 24%, which sounds good but critics note it lagged behind returns of similar-sized investment funds in other states.