Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro says my Sunday column unfairly compares Pennsylvania's 2013 pension contribution rate -- among the lowest and worst in the nation, according to Moody's -- to Montgomery County's. "Pennsylvania's contribution to its state pension funds, which Moody's reported at 52 cents for every dollar needed for 2013, could fall to "about 35, 36 percent" for 2014-15, county finance director Uri Monson tells me, based on available state budget documents and preliminary pension fund estimates.
Montgomery County's own contribution is $3.5 million, vs. an actuarial break-even projection of $10 million -- or 35 percent, about the same as the state's, this year. But Montgomery County has increased its contributions under the current administration, while Pennsylvania this year cut back: "The trajectories are different," Monson says. And since Montgomery County's asset-to-liabilities ratio is significantly higher than the state's, the county is moving in the right direction, while the state is digging deeper into a hole, as the county sees this.
Separately, Monson corrected the asset allocation data I posted for the county. Montgomery says it has by now invested 35% of its assets in U.S. stock index funds -- plus another 25% in international stock index funds, for a total of 55% in stocks. Most of the remaining assets are now in bond funds; relatively little is left in private investments, and none are in hedge funds, which I wrongly included in the category of legacy investments the county is still divesting.