Top Pension Official: "We Have Taken the Steps to Catch Up"

Noelle Chun/Civil Beat

Two national studies have recently questioned the health of Hawaii's state pension fund. But top fund administrators told Civil Beat that the authors of those studies never spoke with them, and refuted their claims that the pension system is in trouble.

"We are playing catch up. But we have taken the steps to catch up," David Shimabukuro, the Employees' Retirement System's top administrator, told Civil Beat in a wide-ranging, two-hour interview at the fund's downtown Honolulu headquarters before he retired at the end of June. (Read an edited transcript of the interview.)

While Shimabukuro acknowledged that the latest numbers show the fund has a $6.2 billion unfunded liability and is only 64.4 percent funded, he said that the rate of contributions has been raised enough to make up the gap. He put the blame for the system's problems on past decisions by the state and county governments.

"This problem was caused by the employer," Shimabukuro said.

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