Indiana employee pension funds get $360M

Gov. Mitch Daniels made the announcement Thursday morning.

The state's financial surplus is being divided between five employee pension funds. The checks range from $14 million to $206 million.

Taxpayers will not know how much they will get from the automatic taxpayer refund until later in the month, but five pension funds do know.

The state closed its latest budget with roughly $2.2 billion in cash reserves. The state's automatic taxpayer refund mandates that $720 million of that money be split between returns to taxpayers and state pension funds.

Daniels dismissed concerns about the teachers' fund Thursday, but Senate budget leader Luke Kenley noted the problem will easily cost the state billions of dollars.

State pension officials told lawmakers this year the teacher pension payouts could begin eating $1 billion from the state budget each year in about a decade.

The teachers retirement fund got the largest check of almost $207 million. The judges pension fund was second with $90 million. The total amount of today's checks comes to over $360 million.

In challenging economic times, Gov. Mitch Daniels pointed out it is highly unusual for any state to be in the fiscal condition to make this kind of allocation.

"Once budgets are balanced, once the savings accounts protected, reserves of the state are at a level deemed fully secure, then surplus revenues will be returned or left with the taxpayers that earned them. Half of it will. The other half will be used to strengthen pension funds," said the governor.

The current threshold is ten percent above the current state budget. Indiana exceeded that by five percent. Hence the refunds.

In future years that threshold will be increased to 12.5 percent.