The Florida Retirement System Pension Plan Trust Fund remained one of the few public pension funds in the U.S. to maintain a positive funded ratio, estimated at 105% at the close of fiscal 2008 on June 30, the fund’s interim executive director said last week.

As the fourth-largest public retirement plan in the country, Florida’s $126.9 billion fund provides retirement benefits to more than 900,000 state and local government employees and retirees.

“The fund continues to be one of the strongest in the country. It is actuarially sound and contribution rates remain significantly below those which would be required if the fund were at the national average funding ratio of about 81%,” said a statement from State Board of Administration interim executive director Bob Milligan. “This helps relieve pressure on participating governments throughout the state which are facing strained budgets.”

Milligan said despite the past fiscal year’s challenging investment environment, particularly in domestic and foreign equity markets, and unprecedented events in the credit markets, the pension fund limited its loss for the period to 4.4% at a time when the domestic stock market was down 12.7% and the foreign equity market was down 7.6%, as measured by broad market indexes. 

When comparing pension fund performance to other U.S. corporate and public pension plans, Florida’s ranked in the top half of the best performing pension plans over all reported time periods, according to Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service,

The SBA, a state-run investment agency, manages 33 funds including the pension plan.

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