The Retirement Program (“ORP” and “TRSL”) Controversy


During the summer of 2009, when faculty were engaged in summer teaching and research projects, the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) quietly but dramatically cut the rate at which employer contributions to defined-contribution retirement programs passed through to employee (faculty) retirement accounts. The reduction, from 6.95% to 5.76%, was the largest in the history of the ORP (a reduction of 18% ), which had already established a long-term trend toward declining benefits. Since the discovery of the retirement program problem, the rate of divergence—the simultaneous increase in employer contributions and decrease in employee receipts—has continued to worsen, with the 2012–2013 fiscal and academic years setting new but unhappy records in this area. TRSL has attempted to explain this reduction with respect to certain actuarial assumptions but continues to use the monies taken from ORP participants to resolve the unfunded liability of the defined-benefit plan, from which ORP participants receive no benefits. Meanwhile, the defined-benefit plan teeters on insolvency, with retirees in that program having no prospect of cost-of-living adjustments.


LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin L. Cope’s initial letter to Louisiana university professionals (revealing and explaining the benefits reduction) [August 2009]

TRSL’s response letter [August 2009]

LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin L. Cope’s second letter, rebutting the TRSL response letter [September 2009]

LSU Professor Wanjun Wang’s refutation of the TRSL claim that it meets Social Security contribution minima for exclusion from Social Security [September 2009]

LSU Faculty Senate resolution concerning ORP contribution cuts [September 2009]

Letter from LSU Faculty Senate to all Louisiana faculty senate presidents requesting collaboration and concurring resolutions [September 2009]

List of retirement system management boards for regional and selected other universities (showing the novelty of a higher education retirement plan that is nested within a much larger teachers’ plan) [September 2009]

Excel spreadsheet showing management arrangements and vesting requirements for SEC-affiliated and selected other large universities [October 2009]

Video of LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin L. Cope’s explanation of the ORP controversy and of the fundamental issues underlying the debate, with follow-on faculty discussion [October 2009]

Baton Rouge Advocate story reporting that the increase in unfunded liability arises from TRSL investment losses (paragraph ten) [December 2009]

Chronicle of Higher Education story on efforts to establish faculty bargaining or representation at Louisiana State University campuses [December 2009]

Update letter from LSU Senate President Kevin L. Cope concerning progress in the ORP effort as of early 2010 [January 2010]

PowerPoint presentation by LSU Benefits Committee Chair Roger Laine to LSU Faculty Issues Discussion Series [February 2010]

Update letter from LSU Senate President Kevin L. Cope concerning further cuts in ORP benefits as announced in early February [February 2010]

PowerPoint presentation by LSUHSC (New Orleans) Professor Robert Turner offering detailed charts and analyses of the retirement plans [March 2010]

Video of testimony by LSU and LSU System Faculty Senate President Kevin L. Cope regarding House Bill 331, permitting re-entry into the TRSL defined-benefit plan after participation in the ORP definied-contribution plan (after video begins playing, move your player scroll bar to 3:19:20 to reach the beginning of the testimony on HB331) [May 2010].

Update letter from LSU Senate President Kevin L. Cope summarizing developments during spring semester 2010 [May 2010].

Link to new story: Virginia teachers and other public employees file fraud suit against West Virginia with respect to an optional retirement plan [May 2010].

Letter to TRSL Director Maureen Westgard regarding apparent violations of TRSL Board election procedures in reference to the 2010 election of a higher education TRSL Board representative [May 2010].

Text of HB530 of the 2011 Louisiana Legislature, proposing to increase employee contributions to retirement funds for purposes of paying the unfunded accrued liability [May 2011].

Video of testimony by Faculty Senate President Kevin L. Cope to the Senate Retirement Committee concerning the proposed privatization of the Office of Group Benefits [May 2011].

Synpotic presentation on the retirement fund problem by LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin L. Cope [October 2011].

One-page simplified summary of the retirement plan problem [November 2011].

Report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor on the legality of retirement plan changes proposed in the 2012 legislative session [March 2012].

Update and summary by TRSL: proposed and pending legislation relating to state retirement plans (for the 2012 legislative session) [April 2012].

Announcement (via LSU HRM) of 2012–2013 ORP and TRSL rates: employee normal cost; employer normal cost; unfunded accrued liability; total cost (lowest employee share since program inception) [July 2012]

Presentation by A. G. Monaco and Derrick Angelloz summarizing the retirement plan problem and outlining a new approach to its solution: PowerPoint format [December 2012]

Presentation by A. G. Monaco and Derrick Agenlloz summarizing the retirement plan problem and outlining a new approach to its solution: PDF format [December 2012]

Graphs prepared by Roger Laine comparing LSU retirement benefits to those at other SEC institutions: PDF format [March 2013]

Graph by A G Monaco comparing LSU (and Louisiana) higher education retirement benefits to peer institutions [March 2013]

Flyer by A G Monaco showing dramatic reductions to retirement benefits under the proposed cash-balance plan [March 2013]

Flyer announcing the April 9th, 2013 on-campus presentation on retirement by TRSL officials: PDF format [March-April 2013]

TRSL actuary report recommending a cut in normal-cost benefits to 3.66% (see page 3 of report): PDF format [October 2013]

December 2013 Focus on the Fisc (publication of the Legislative Fiscal Office) describing the adverse consequences of a low ORP normal cost (contribution rate) (see pages 7–8) [December 2013]

Draft legislation for the 2014 legislative session establishing a floor to the normal cost for the Optional Retirement Plan [December 2013]

Update on and summary of the retirement plan problem for the LSU A&M Faculty Senate in PowerPoint format [January 2014]

TRSL presentation from LSUnited-sponsored retirement forum: PowerPoint format [February 2014]

Reveille report on LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin L. Cope’s comments on the retirement funding problem [February 2014]

Simplified summary of the retirement plan problem and analysis of pertinent legislation proposed for the 2014 Louisiana legislative session [March 2014]

Update on and summary of the retirement plan problem, in PowerPoint format, as presented at the two LSUHSC campsues [April 2014]

Lawsuit (petition for declaratory judgment) filed against the LSU Board of Supervisors and against TRSL [October 2014]

Updated comparison by Stuart Irvine of the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) to retirement plans at LSU’s peer institutions [November 2014]

LSUnited–LSU Faculty Senate Forum on Benefits featuring Representative John Bel Edwards, Stuart Irvine, Dayne Sherman, James Kirylo, and Kevin Cope [November 2014]

Current TRSL tables showing declining contributions from employer payments [no date] (CAUTION: The tables are difficult to follow and interprets; scroll down and look for the ORP, not the TRSL, contribution information in the lower-right corner of this long page)


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