House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, said Monday that Louisiana must exercise better control of state employee retirement systems that threaten funding for important services and programs.

Tucker told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that the four retirement systems have a combined unfunded accrued liability of $16 billion and annual expenditures of $600 million.

Agencies are covering retirement costs “at the expense of health care for the elderly, education for children, and roads for economic development across this state,” he said.

Tucker also said he supports legislation to create an oversight panel to help manage the $23 billion in investments held by the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana, and systems covering state police and school employees. He also wants the state to move from defined retirement benefits to a program of benefits based on worker ­contributions.

The four plans cover approximately 280,000 retirees and current workers.

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