CalPERS loses No. 1 status, begins furloughs

In January, the Federal Thrift Savings Plan became the largest pension fund in the United States with $197.3 billion in assets under management, knocking the California Public Employees’ Retirement System off its No. 1 perch for the first time in the past decade. The Federal Thrift Savings Plan serves federal government employees and was established by Congress in 1986.

Adding insult to injury, CalPERS will be running reduced staffs on the first and third Friday of each month until June 30, 2010 to comply with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order that all state-employed officials be furloughed on those dates to help reduce the state’s enormous budget deficit. The move affects CalPERS’ corporate headquarters and regional office in Sacramento, regional offices in Fresno, Glendale, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose and Walnut Creek, and member and employer customer call centers. The furlough order took effect on Friday, Feb. 6.

State of Illinois explores pension consolidation

It looks like Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ recent proposal to combine the state’s five retirement systems into one entity is getting closer to reality. A state-appointed commission issued a request for proposals to find a consultant to help advise the state on the feasibility of such a plan. The state’s retirement systems include the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, the Illinois State Universities Retirement System, and the Illinois State Board of Investment, which oversees three retirement systems for state employees, judges and the general assembly. The systems have a combined $54 billion in assets under management.