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Florida’s public pension fund lost some financial ground in 2023

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(The Center Square) — According to its comprehensive annual financial report, Florida’s public pension system is in solid financial shape, but its position eroded slightly in 2023.

As of June 2023, the market value for the Florida Retirement System pension plan was approximately $185.71 billion, while unfunded liabilities, referred to as the fiduciary net position, was approximately $186.4 billion, 3.4% above fiscal year 2022.

While this is an increase from 2022, which had a fiduciary net position of $180.2 billion, it is significantly lower than 2021 which had a fiduciary net position of $202 billion. The FRS had an overall investment gain of 7.5% for 2023, compared with a negative return of 6.27% for 2022.

As of July 2023, the FRS funding ratio was 81.4% compared to 81.9% as of July 2022. However, according to the report, the funding ratio on the Governmental Accounting Standards Board statement — which uses a different methodology for its calculations — remained steady at 82.4% as of July 2023.

Currently, active FRS members have an average mean age of 45 years — this includes state and non-state membership — and an average salary of between $50,000 and $64,000 per year. FRS pension plan recipients increased to 415,827 for 2023, up from 409,837 in 2022 and 402,566 in 2021.

The FRS is the fourth-largest state retirement plan in the United States. It provides retirement, disability, or death benefits to around 455,601 retirees and approximately 27,767 participants in the Deferred Retirement Option Program. It also offers a variety of services to 646,277 active members.

As of June 2023, there were 991 participating employers enrolling new members, while 44 participating employers were closed to new membership.

The report says because not all benefit payments are immediately due, the state Board of Administration can maintain its long-term investment strategy with a diverse investment portfolio.

One significant issue identified in the report by State Retirement Director Kathy Gould, was limitations with internal controls to safeguard assets, prevent fraud, waste and ensure accurate financial information.

Gould noted that because internal controls are also primarily focused on preventing an individual from committing theft or fraud, the plan lacks controls to prevent two or more employees from colluding to circumvent them.

According to the report, investments are highly diversified and include government and corporate bonds, common stocks, income-producing real estate, and alternative investments.

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