June 2018 President’s Letter

IIA IPERS Improvement Association

Dear IPERS members,

As we breathe a sigh of relief, because of surviving the last Iowa Legislative Session, we must start thinking about the question that should be in everyone’s mind. The critical question was asked numerous times over the course of the session, especially to the political party that holds the current majority in both houses and in the Governor’s office. So what is that question and, most importantly, what was the answer that was most frequently given? By now, you realize what the question asked was, “Are there going to be any changes made to IPERS in the foreseeable future?” If you were listening carefully to the reply, the usual standard regurgitated answer was, “No, we have no plans for making changes… THIS year. (Did you notice the key word in that answer, which should raise your level of concern?)

It is almost certainly a given that, unless the political climate changes drastically, there will most certainly be big changes from the IPERS that we have known since the 1950’s. Currently, and since its inception, one has been able to methodically plan ahead to when you will be able to retire and accurately calculate what funds you will be able to withdraw with which to live. The system we have contributed to, and many have retired on, is classified as a “defined benefits” plan, which guarantees you a certain monthly benefit. The IPERS investments, because of an outstanding group of investors, has been a very profitable system. Last year alone, even though political critics said it was impossible to gain more than 4%, the final calculations showed a return of more than 11%. One would think that, in light of this almost miraculous financial gain, there would be no question as to whether IPERS is a sound, financial institution. WRONG! If you thought that common sense would dictate to not mess with something that is working perfectly, you have forgotten that we are dealing with many members of the Iowa Legislature that truly believed that privatizing Medicaid would be a good idea and save the State of Iowa a lot of money. We’ve seen, first hand, how unsuccessful and how this idea has been flawed. You have also been witness to the treachery enacted with the dismantling of the public bargaining laws in Iowa, as well as other states. The current political climate is not always friendly to public employees, and certain legislators would take pleasure in changing OUR system.

Now, you should be asking yourself the critical question, “What can I do to fight this problematic trend, which will most assuredly be a factor in my future welfare?” I sincerely hope that the clear majority of you realize you cannot do much by yourself, because there is much more success in working with groups of people who have a common and vested interest. With that thought in mind, let me tell you a little of what the IPERS Improvement Association is doing to protect everyone. We are a larger group of people, having a common interest with anyone who is an IPERS member, whose sole purpose is to work toward the protection and the improvement of the Iowa Public Employee Retirement System. We have a member on the IPERS Benefits Advisory Committee, which is a privilege that all organizations do not have. We have recently bonded and joined with the Iowa State Education Association and AFSME, two of the largest organizations for public employees in Iowa, in an organization called the Iowa Coalition for Retirement Security.

Please consider doing your part, getting involved, and joining with an even larger group of individuals who are working for all of us, and protecting our retirement system. Join the IPERS Improvement Association for $12/year. For more information, please go to http://ipersimproveassoc.com/ and/or www.iaretirement.org

Sincerely, Bill Maas,

President IPERS Improvement Association