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.
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
Mark your calendar NOW!
The 2015 RPENM Annual Membership Meeting will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Friday May 1, 2015 (Board Meeting) and Saturday, May 2 (General Membership Meeting.) Santa Fe Chapter 8, who recently acquired 100 new Chapter members, will be hosting this meeting along with REPNM volunteers. Members and guests can look forward to accommodations at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, located at 4048 Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. The meeting will include a 50/50 raffle for those in attendance a chance to win a drawing for a DoubleTree Hilton one night stay in Santa Fe! Room rates at the Hotel for RPENM Members and guests will be $89 per night which includes breakfast for up to two guests. You may contact the hotel at 505-473-4646 for additional information. Room reservations must be made for RPENM members and guests prior to April 1, 2015, to obtain the $89 room rate - be sure to identify yourself as an RPENM member! More details on the Spring Annual Membership Meeting will be forthcoming soon!
The 2014 RPENM Fall Board Meeting held in Albuquerque on October 24th (reception) and 25th (board meeting) was a great success! We had a well attended reception at El Patron Restaurant on Friday evening including State Representative Bill Rehm, District 31, as a guest. Representative Rehm is a long term RPENM member and strongly supports our organization. The Fall Board Meeting on Friday included a review and recommended changes on RPENM policy, 2015 membership goals, and an historical overview of RPENM from 1962 to current. Also, an informative discussion was held on RPENM administrative challenges, chapter support, and a plan for implementing successful business practices with our organization. Reports were made on the upcoming 2015 legislative session by our lobbyists, Richard Romero and Sue Griffith, as well as a New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority update by Doug Crandall, RPENM appointed RHCA Representative.
Gerald Chavez was hired by the RPENM Board of Directors as our new Executive Director due the resignation of Pam Kileen. Mr. Chavez has been a long time member of RPENM and served as prior President of the RPENM Board of Directors as well as PERA Board Chair. Mr. Chavez brings enthusiasm and great qualifications to his new position of RPENM Executive Director, and will move our organization forward!
Dan Mayfield has moved up to the position of RPENM President. Dan has a long history with RPENM, and is currently serving on the PERA Board and PERA Investment Chair. Dan has served on many financial committees with RPENM, and will do a great job for us as President.
Susan Biernacki, prior 17 year PERA Board Member and PERA Investment Chair, was appointed to our board on December 22, 2014 due to the resignation of Loretta Naranjo-Lopez. Susan is a long term supporter and member of RPENM , and brings excellent qualifications to our Board of Directors. Susan, who recently retired from the City of Albuquerque, is a prior Assistant City Attorney and Deputy City of AlbuquerqueTreasurer.
Ann Crandall, prior RPENM Executive Director and board member, has accepted the role of first RPENM 1st Vice President. Ann co-chairs our RPENM Membership Committee, and works very hard on behalf of the membership and in her leadership role as Membership Chair.
Effective January 1, 2015, RPENM annual dues will increase to $30.00 per year ($2.50 per month) from the current rate of $24.00. This dues increase will be the first for our membership in 10 years, and is necessary to assist RPENM, a non-profit organization, to meet increases in printing a mailing costs, meeting expenses, pay for the RPENM office lease, operating expenses, and retain our full time lobbyists to represent us in Santa Fe. The dues increase was voted in unanimously May 1, 2014 by the RPENM Board of Directors and approved by the RPENM membership. RPENM owes a big “thank you” to our many volunteers that assists RPENM with many donated hours of their personal time - 100% of RPENM dues goes back to our membership!
RPENM Chapter 5 will be hosting their next Chapter meeting on Friday, February 13th, 11:30 Am at the RPENM office located in Albuquerque at 10501 Montgomery Blvd, NE, AAA Building, 3rd floor. A light lunch of pizza, salad and drinks will be served. A speaker for the meeting will be announced soon.
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.
Thank you, PERA Board Members and Wayne Propst, PERA Executive Director!
RPENM will be electing new Board Members in May of 2015 with six positions becoming available to our membership. Are you willing to serve as a board member dedicated to protecting your PERA retirement and RHCA health care benefits? Do you enjoy being involved with fun people from around the state, and serve as a voice as a PERA retiree in Santa Fe? We need your help! Contact the RPENM office at 505-280-8459 for more information.
Gerald Chavez, RPENM Executive Director, and the RPENM Membership Committee have been working hard to revitalize our statewide chapters. We have been successful this year. RPENM Chapter 5 now has over 160 members and is growing. Santa Fe Chapter 8 recently added 67 new members!
Not a chapter member but you belong to state RPENM? Contact Ann Crandall, RPENM First Vice President at 505-280-8459 on how to join a Chapter in your area. Chapters are great for local PERA/RHCA and legislative updates, quarterly meetings, receive e-mail bulletins on topics of interest to PERA retirees, and networking with others to ensure YOUR PERA pension and benefits are safe.
RPENM Chapter 5 will hold their Fall meeting on Friday, November 14, 2014 at the RPENM office, 10501 Montgomery NE, (AAA Building) 2nd floor committee room. The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM. Elections will be conducted for our new 2015 Board of Directors, and updates on PERA and RHCA will be addressed as matters of importance with the 2015 legislative session coming soon. Don’t miss this important meeting! Contact Ann Crandall at RPENM, 505-280-8459 for more information.
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!
> 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:
PO Box 20607
Albuquerque NM 87154-0607
or (505) 280-8459