Florida's pension fund on the rebound

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After an “awful” second half of 2011, Florida’s pension fund has surged during the early weeks of 2012, the head of the state Board of Administration told Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members Tuesday.

The fund had $127.3 billion as of Monday night, up from $118.2 billion on Dec. 31, SBA Executive Director Ash Williams said. By comparison, the fund had $128.5 billion in June 2011, though the state also has paid out about $4 billion in benefits since that time. “It’s just been a terrific run (in early 2012),” Williams said. “Of course, anybody can speculate on the sustainability of that kind of a move.” Williams described the latter half of 2011 as “awful.”

Among the factors in the volatility were problems in global investments, as Europe’s economy faced unrest. Williams, consultants and representatives of advisory groups made detailed presentations to Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi about the state’s investments and the health of the pension fund. Scott raised questions, in part, about the ability of the pension fund to meet its long-term obligations. Consulting actuary Robert Dezube said the system in July 2011 was funded at 87.5 percent of its projected obligations, down slightly from July 2010.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.