Sen. Billy Hewes has launched a misleading attack ad on television against Tate Reeves in the Jackson and Hattiesburg-Laurel media markets. Hewes is the first statewide campaign to launch a negative ad in this campaign. While Tate Reeves has campaigned openly on his record as Treasurer and has aired commercials discussing his record and what he wants to do as Lt. Governor, Hewes has actively avoided discussing his voting record, what that record has meant to taxpayers and what his priorities would be as Lt. Governor. Hewes hasn't discussed his record or goals on television and doesn't even mention them on his campaign website. Hewes' negative campaign has begun even before Hewes has introduced himself on television to voters outside the Jackson and Hattiesburg-Laurel media markets.
The following is a review of the facts regarding Billy Hewes' latest false claims.
Hewes' claim: "Tate Reeves claims to be Mississippi's watchdog."
"The taxpayers of Mississippi should be thankful that Reeves is doing what he's supposed to do, and that's be a watchdog for tax money." - Delta Democrat Times, May 3, 2004
"Reeves continues watchdog role from treasurer's post" - The Meridian Star, July 25, 2005
"Tate Reeves, Mississippi's treasurer, took it upon himself to figure a way to save taxpayers millions of dollars in unnecessary interest costs." - Greenwood Commonwealth, September 24, 2006
"Tate played a major role in Mississippi retaining its favorable bond rating in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and I appreciate his many contributions to ensuring that Mississippi remains fiscally strong." - Governor Haley Barbour; Magnolia Report, March 15, 2006
Read more about Tate Reeves' record as Treasurer.
Hewes' claim: "Reeves mismanaged our college savings fund so badly that now lawmakers worry it may go under."
"One of Mississippi's college savings plans is among the top five programs in the nation, according to a recent ranking. Consumer Reports awarded the Mississippi Affordable College Savings plan an "A' on its performance during last year's stock-market plunge, citing its investment flexibility, low expenses and fees." -- The Clarion-Ledger, article by Elizabeth Crisp, March 9, 2009.
Since the article cited in Hewes' ad was written (December 2010), MPACT investments have grown 13% last year and over 20% year-to-date in 2011.
Hewes' claim: "And as chairman of the pension board he oversaw the loss of $3.8 billion that state employees were counting on for retirement."
"PERS is making changes to counteract effects from benefit increases made in the late 1990s when our funded status fluctuated comfortably above 80 percent. These retroactive benefit enhancements combined with the effect of the dot-com bust and more recently the Great Recession have necessitated increases in member and employer contributions " -- Pat Robertson, Executive Director of PERS, June 14, 2011
"But over the last decade, decisions by the Mississippi Legislature to raise state employee retirement benefits without providing a funding mechanism while simultaneously failing to set aside funds to meet future retiree health care benefits have cast financial shadows over the state's once-pristine system." -- Sid Salter, The Clarion-Ledger, February 27, 2010
"Pat Robertson, executive director of the 373,000-member Public Employees Retirement System, told The Clarion-Ledger editorial board recently that much of the benefit increases provided by the Legislature came in the form of unfunded cost-of-living increases to retirees. Robertson said retirement formulas were also amended for current employees, effectively providing a retroactive benefit increase that was also unfunded." -- Sid Salter, The Clarion-Ledger, February 27, 2010
"But Gov. Haley Barbour called the Legislature's increase in state retirement benefits without a corresponding funding mechanism "wrongheaded.'" -- Sid Salter, The Clarion-Ledger, February 27, 2010
THE BOTTOM LINE
1999 -- Sen. Billy Hewes voted for an unprecedented, retroactive expansion of state employee retirement benefits that is widely credited with causing the current funding shortfalls. (HB 472 -- 2/4/99 -- Hewes votes Y. 3/3/99 -- Conference Committee Report -- Hewes votes Y. SB 2381 1/8/99 -- Hewes votes Y.)
2000 and 2002 -- Sen. Billy Hewes voted to spend more taxpayer dollars on special benefits for legislators through SLRP. (HB 1281 -- 4/5/00 -- Hewes votes Y. 5/2/00 -- Hewes votes Y. 5/3/00 -- Hewes votes Y. HB 1148 -- 3/13/02 -- Hewes votes Y. 4/4/02 -- Hewes votes Y.)
"Critics also pointed to the fact that the PERS retirement benefit increase passed by the Legislature benefitted lawmakers personally twice through PERS and through the Supplemental Legislative Retirement Plan, or SLRP." -- Sid Salter, The Clarion-Ledger, February 27, 2010