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October 15, 2015 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

With the state’s budget woes solved (for now), the legislature is currently pretty quiet, and this month’s news comes from other areas.

RSA Briefs Legislative Study Commission
The Joint Legislative Committee on Public Pensions recently received a briefing regarding the Operations of the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) in Montgomery. The RSA CEO Dr. David Bronner pointed out that his job as head of the pension system and the jobs of legislators are fundamentally different because he has to focus on producing long-term results while lawmakers are more concerned with producing short-term results to keep voters happy. Data presented indicates that retirement reforms passed by the legislature and economic recovery in the market have helped to reduce the system’s unfunded liabilities. Bronner pointed out that the percentage of new hires enrolls in RSA; the liabilities should continue to decrease. Actuaries for the system and a representative from National Association of State Retirement Administrators pointed out that finances of the pension system have improved dramatically since the 2008 economic downturn and have turned a positive corner.

Justice Department Finalizes Settlement with BP
The Justice Department and five states have finalized a settlement worth more than $20 billion arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement resolves all civil claims against BP and ends five years of legal fighting over the oil spill. It requires the company to commit to a widespread cleanup project in the Gulf Coast area aimed at restoring wildlife, habitat, water quality and recreation. The settlement filed in federal court finalizes an agreement first announced in July. The next step is a 60-day public comment period. The settlement provides nearly $5 billion to five Gulf States: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

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