Retired Public Employees
of New Mexico

Welcome to RPENM

The Retired Public Employees of New Mexico (RPENM) has been serving New Mexico's retired public employees since 1962. Our membership comes from every community in New Mexico and all over the United States. Our Mission is to give a voice to all retired public employees. We provide members with valuable benefits, newsletters, annual meetings and chapters throughout the state. PERA retirees, their beneficiaries, and active PERA members are all eligible to join RPENM.

Latest News

RPENM 2015 Spring Annual Membership Meeting Success!

DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, Santa Fe, NM - May 1st and 2nd, 2015

Our long time RPENM members and guests had nothing but positive comments regarding the RPENM Annual Membership Meeting held on May 1 and 2nd, 2015 in Santa Fe - many stated that this was the best Annual RPENM Meeting EVER! Approximately 70 members and guests were in attendance. On Friday May 1st, after the Board Meeting, an evening reception with food and drink was provided at the hotel for our those in attendance. On Saturday, the membership enjoyed our featured guest speaker, Senator Michael Padilla, who expressed his support for all NM PERA retirees and their families. Senator Padilla was awarded an honorary membership with RPENM. Senator Ted Barela, long time RPENM member, also spoke of the value of public servants to the community and his sustained support to RPENM and our membership.

State-wide RPENM members were well represented at the meeting, with highlights that included a 50/50 raffle won by Carl Baldwin of Santa Fe. RPENM members Leroy Candelaria and Priscilla Romero won expense paid trips to next year’s annual meeting. Members and guests enjoyed a drawing for door prizes, and a silent auction raised $500 for RPENM! Members also enjoyed a trip to the PERA building, where Executive Director Wayne Propst and his staff gave participants a tour of the “new” facility.

Some highlights of the meeting include:

  • We heard very good news from Wayne Propst, PERA Executive Director, indicating that the PERA fund has nearly reached the $15B mark with reported gains of over 17% in 2014. Public retirement funds are under attack all over the country, and we must stay vigilant in protecting our benefits!
  • Our lobbyists, Richard Romero and Sue Griffith, supported 11 bills in the 2015 legislative session that would affect all PERA members and retirees. We were able to table the “Return to Work” bill initiated by the City of Albuquerque. It was noted that the “Return to Work” bill will most likely become another issue for RPENM at the 2016 legislative session.
  • The Executive Director, Gerald Chavez, has developed new business processes for RPENM and is working hard on membership and getting the word out of who we are. We will be concentrating on increasing our membership in the coming months. Updated recruiting letters have been written by Gerald that is helping retaining and recruiting new members!
  • The RPENM Bylaws were updated and voted on to allow the President of RPENM to serve no more than two, 2-year terms. This was passed unanimously by the RPENM BOD as well as the voting membership.
  • New Officers elected to RPENM by acclamation of the BOD are: President, Dan Mayfield. 1st Vice President, Ann Crandall. 2nd Vice President, Charlie Miller, Secretary, Stephanie Goodrich and Treasurer, Susan Biernacki. No formal election was required as RPENM had less than 6 candidates running for the board. In addition, Carl Baldwin from Santa Fe and Joel Pafford, representing Raton, were also sworn in as new RPENM Board Members. RPENM now has two additional vacant positions on the BOD due to recent resignations of board members Mike Clendenin and Isabel Clendenin - thank you both of your dedication and support to RPENM for many years!

Your VOTE Counts!

Gerald Chavez Endorsed for Upcoming PERA Retiree Board Member Position

At the Annual Meeting, Gerald Chavez was unanimously endorsed by the RPENM Board of Directors and membership for the upcoming PERA election to fill the retiree position that will be on the ballot. Mr. Chavez, a prior Chairman of the PERA Board of Directors, has excellent qualifications and commitment to PERA retirees and their families regarding protection of our benefits and solvency of the fund. Gerald, a native New Mexican, is the current Executive Director of RPENM and also prior RPENM President. Gerald’s commitment to retirees and enthusiasm for protecting our PERA retirement and benefits, along with his commitment to fiduciary responsibility, makes him an excellent choice to represent retirees and beneficiaries on the PERA Board. We strongly encourage all PERA members and beneficiaries to VOTE for Gerald Chavez when your ballot is received by mail in August, 2015.

Please remember to vote for GERALD CHAVEZ in this important election!

The Fall RPENM Chapter Five Meeting

Friday September 11, 2015, at the RPENM office located at 10501 Montgomery NE, (Montgomery east of Morris) 3rd Floor Committee Room, 11:30 AM.

Guest speaker will be Mark Tyndall, Executive Director for the New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority Please come and learn about your health care plan and updates for 2016!

Light snacks and beverages will be served. Bring a PERA Friend!

Please find the RPENM office location and get directions for your convenience via maps

RPENM lets Legislators know Enough is Enough!

RPENM WORKING FOR YOU!

See the article on abqjournal.com published by Gerald L. Chavez on Albuquerque Journal 3/19/2015 edition

“DOUBLE DIPPING” SB466 Tabled By Senate Judiciary Committee New Mexico State Legislature, March, 2015

If you have not heard, RPENM is glad to present the good news! Senate Bill 466 was tabled by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 7-3. Gerald Chavez, RPENM Executive Director and many RPENM members strongly voiced their opposition to this bill at the Committee Hearing which allowed Police officers statewide to return to work, known as “Double Dipping.” The provisions of SB466 clearly violate the New Mexico State Constitution and negatively affects the funding of New Mexico PERA. The state constitution states, in part:

Article XX, Section 22, NM State Constitution: C. A retirement board shall have the sole and exclusive power and authority to adopt actuarial assumptions for its system based upon the recommendations made by an independent actuary with whom it contracts. The legislature shall not enact any law that increases the benefits paid by the system in any manner or changes the funding formula for a retirement plan unless adequate funding is provided.

Thanks to the many RPENM members throughout the state that took the time to get involved and let the Legislature know that we opposed SB466. At the end of the day, RPENM let their voice be heard, and we were successful!

When our legislators point their index finger at PERA, I challenge them to look at their remaining three fingers pointing right back at them. New Mexico’s legislative history is reflecting decades of flip-flop legislation largely responsible for facilitating PERA’s pension challenges. Let the pension reform of SB27 do its job without making more special exemptions and/or pension enhancements.

For decades Legislative bills were enacted upon that made special benefit enhancements and special exemptions without researching actuarial financial impacts to the fund. For example, in 2003, there was a strategic introduction of bills, both in the House and Senate that intertwined double dipping along with an enhanced Legislative Pension plan bill (SB620).

The fiscal implications noted on the Fiscal Impact Report dated 3/20/2003 stated: “SB 620 represents a significant plan change to State Legislator Member Coverage Plan 1, and no actuarial study was requested for this change. The amount necessary to fund these benefits improvements unknown.” Coincidentally, there was a companion bill, SB 621, which developed a funding stream for the enhanced Legislative retirement plan from oil and gas tax revenues.

Then after the 2008 stock market crisis, New Mexico’s Legislators were calling PERA’s UAAL, (unfunded accrued actuarial liability) a crisis to New Mexico’s taxpayers and demanded benefit reductions across the board. In 2010 the Legislature deemed double dipping a liability to the PERA fund and put a stop to it. From 2011 to 2012 Legislators threatened extreme measures of pension reform. The extent of these measures included changing the defined benefit program to a defined contribution program (401K) and the total elimination of a COLA, (cost of living adjustment).

In 2013, the PERA Board recommended a plan to reduce and/or eliminate their UAAL within a 30 year time frame. They developed a pension reform plan through shared sacrifices amongst the entire membership, which was known as Senate Bill 27. This bill was touted as an all-encompassing sacrifice with NO special exemptions. Besides faith in our market over long term investments, the success of this reform hinged on four factors: members working longer before retiring, an increase in membership contributions, a delay in COLA eligibility after retirement and a 1/3rd reduction within the COLA.

Now in 2015, only a year and a half after SB 27 was passed and signed into law by Governor Martinez, legislators are sponsoring bills that are contradictory to SB 27. Such bills include the encouragement of early retirements by making exemptions for return to work, otherwise known as “double dipping.” These bills represent special interest entitlement by attempting to shift the liabilities throughout the other membership groups. Our legislators must realize that they are accountable to more than 80,000 public servants that realized pension reductions in 2013. Opening the door to exemptions for certain membership groups brings question to fairness and equity amongst the 31 membership plans, and especially the single largest membership group of over 35,000 retirees.

Gerald L. Chavez
Executive Director –Retired Public Employees of New Mexico

Adverstisment for Gerald Chávez

PERA News

Good News is reported from PERA!

In November, 2014, RPENM received very encouraging and factual information from the FY14 Actuarial Valuations on the status of PERA.

  • 1. The PERA fund ratio increased from 72.9% to 75.8%
  • 2. The Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL) decreased by $321 million. The UAAL is now $4.3 billion.
  • 3. The amortization period decreased from 128 years to 40 years - a Major Accomplishment for PERA!

Thank you, PERA Board Members and Wayne Propst, PERA Executive Director!

How RPENM has Recently Been Working for You!

In April 2014, we voiced our concern for a group of 157 retirees that were dealt a great injustice by having their Life Insurance benefit reduced from $25,000 to $5,000 (80% reduction). The enterprise driven public entity that attempted this has continued to give generous raises and benefit packages to its current workforce. With no regard or input from retirees, they decided that their financial issues can only be solved by taking away a vested benefit from retirees.

Our Executive Director, Gerald Chavez, spent countless hours speaking with these impacted retirees, with City Councilors, with County Commissioners and with many other elected representatives. He met with the entity's Executive Director and fought hard to represent the RPENM membership and these retirees regarding the reinstatement of this retiree benefit.

We want to make specific mention of Senator Michael Padilla. He made his position clear that the entity needed to reconsider this retiree life insurance benefit. The Senator is a true advocate for public servants and has a sincere regard for the value of retirees. His support was key in the success of this issue.

What is at stake is larger than a public employer balancing its budget solely on the backs of its retirees. The Board of Directors allowed this action without dialogue, discussion or debate from the affected retirees.

RPENM stood up for these retirees and gained enough support from the governing body to reinstate the life insurance benefit. The fact that RPENM spearheaded this initiative and were successful in assisting this group of PERA retirees has given recognition to our organization. For many of these City Councilors, County Commissioners and many other elected officials who previously did not know who RPENM was, they now know who we are!

Accomplishments

> Lobbied for and supported recent legislation that will reach toward PERA’s goal of being as close to 100% funded as possible by the year 2041.

> Led the effort to pass Constitutional Amendment 4 in 1998, protecting PERA's assets from political raids.

> Worked to establish the New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority (NMRHCA).

> Secured two elected PERA retiree board members. Continue to work with PERA to ensure good legislation and security of the PERA fund.

> Partnered with NMRHCA and the Association of Education Retirees (AER), our peer on the teacher's side, to lobby the legislature and sue the governor to keep them from changing NMRHCA without the appropriate planning or studies.

> Provide many member-only benefits and discounts to RPENM members.

Yes, we have taken action and will continue to take action in the future, but please remember one thing: PERA and the NMRHCA were both created by legislative action and can be changed, for good or bad by legislative action.

For more information please contact our Executive Director at:

RPENM
PO Box 20607
Albuquerque NM 87154-0607

or (505) 280-8459

or rpenm@rpenm.org