Three legislative interim committees are braving icy elements in Santa Fe, getting hearings in before the holiday and pre-session rush. Nine committees in total meet before Thanksgiving. Bills to be considered in the 2015 session can be prefiled starting Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Investment and Pension Oversight (IPOC)
The Education Retirement Board (ERB) reported its latest solvency status to IPOC this morning. The report is favorable, with the funded ratio going up from 60 percent to 63 percent and the unfunded liability decreasing from $6.7 billion to $6.3 billion. Current projections have the ERB pension fund totally funded by 2040 or five years sooner than expected. This is a positive prognosis for employees hoping to have current COLA reductions diminished or removed by the time they reach retirement.   

For those keeping score, the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) report on pension reform is even more stellar, with a funded ratio of 75.8 percent and unfunded liability down almost $400 million to $4.3 billion. PERA predicts full pension funding by 2031. Please note that PERA is a totally different pension entity with a complicated structure and its own unique solvency issues, but lawmakers tend to look at ERB and PERA in tandem.

Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC)
Across the Roundhouse, the LESC got an update on the Hispanic Education Act, hearing from several UNM stakeholders in this statewide project with its overarching goals of student success, family engagement and collaboration. UNM Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Jozi De Leon reported on the Unidos Project along with Project Director Jennifer Gomez-Chavez. This is one of 13 programs on Latino education issues being funded by the Lumina Foundation. Its project goals have been aligned with those of the Hispanic Education Act. Assistant Research Professor Meriah Heredia-Griego from the UNM Center for Education Policy Research, among others, spoke about data mining and analysis and how to track progress while paying special attention to New Mexico’s context. A five-year plan is in the offing.

Tomorrow, LESC will hear an update on the Higher Education funding formula.