The commission set up to look into faster ways to bolster the finances of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System convened last week for the first of 10 meetings. The 13-member commission is to recommend solutions to the 2012 Legislature.

Proposals include increasing the payments by public employees to 4% or 6% of their salaries, and raising the rate paid by state and local governments.

The $3 billion drop in 2008 in the value of investments held by the KPERS continues to affect its unfunded liabilities through 2033, which rose by $587 million in fiscal 2011 to almost $8.3 billion.

Executive director Glenn Deck told trustees that the system uses a five-year average of losses and gains to avoid extreme year-to-year spikes in value. Improved returns in 2010 should eliminate the drop caused by  the 2008 slump, the system’s chief actuary said.

Trustee Michael Braude proposed to lower the assumed investment growth rate for the next 10 years to 7.5% from the current 8%, but the motion failed.

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