As the Kentucky Chamber has previously reported, Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) Executive Director Bill Thielen will be retiring at the end of the year. With the Board of Directors of KRS tasked with selecting the next Executive Director, Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson wrote a letter to KRS Chairman Thomas Elliott outlining the qualities the business community would like to see in Thielen’s successor.
In his letter, Adkisson said that Kentucky needs the leadership of an expert who has the experience and expertise to advocate an aggressive program to improve the financial health of KRS. These qualifications should include:
- Experience as a top administrator of a major public pension system at the state or local level with a solid track record;
- Demonstrated success in implementing changes designed to improve the performance of a public pension system;
- Extensive professional investment and/or public finance experience;
- A willingness to bring in independent experts to assess all aspects of system performance; and
- A commitment to promote transparency to ensure the public is kept informed of system operations.
The Kentucky Chamber believes the financial crisis of the retirement system is the most critical issue facing state government and encourages the KRS Board of Directors to look for these qualities when hiring this vitally important position.
At the April meeting of the Public Pension Oversight Board, which oversees KRS, it was reported that the funding level of KRS is forecast to drop as low as 14 percent. The system was funded at 85% in 2004, but after a decade of shortchanging the plan, it is now funded at 21%. Because of these persistent problems, the Kentucky Chamber has called on State Auditor Adam Edelen to conduct a performance audit of KRS to examine the system is performing compared with other states and finding the reasons for any underperformance.