EWER: ALL STATE EMPLOYEES BENEFIT FROM YOUR WORK
David Ewer, who heads Montana’s Board of Investments, was a keynote speaker at this year’s Annual Meeting in Billings.
A state employee since 1985, Ewer brings a unique set of skills and observations to his current position. He has served as a legislator, a Department of Commerce staffer, on the Board of Investments, as state budget director for eight years, and now as the Board of Investment’s Executive Director.
He told MPEA members he was thankful for the services provided by DPHHS, noted that we had arrived on roads built by the Transportation Department and also commented that the work of Revenue Department collecting taxes enabled us in Montana to live in a civilized society.
“You benefit from regulations as do all Montanans.” To be remembered, Ewer was the legislator who vigorously opposed the 1997 deregulation of the power industry that led to much higher power costs, the collapse of the Montana Power Company, the loss of retirement benefits for many and the financial ruin of many families. It was this common sense that led former Governor Brian
Schweitzer to appoint him as his budget director. He was also the correct one in his arguments with legislators over the amount of revenue being received by the state.
Ewer relayed that “because of your work in negotiations, all state employees benefit. Without you and your leadership Montana wouldn’t be as good a place to work.”
“Thanks to unions,” Ewer said, “as the tide has gone out for so many Americans union members have been able to retain many of the benefits they worked to acquire.”
Ewer then began to explain the relationship between the health of state retirement systems and the work of the Board of Investments.
He began by noting that he believed it reckless not to have retirement security. There are a lot of naysayers about retirement systems but Ewer said the rate of return on investments stands at 7.83 percent which is higher than the 7.75 percent used by actuaries as a part of how they calculate the health of retirement systems.
He then said the 3 percent guaranteed annual benefit adjustment wasn’t funded then urged members to oppose extra benefits unless they were being paid for.
Ewer said Montana was a low tax state and that the Board has about $9.5 billion in assets of which $4.8 billion was in the retirement systems. He then noted that earnings from private equity (stocks) has been running 12, 13 and 14 percent.
Ewer concluded his remarks by saying he believed everyone wants healthy retirement systems and an end to the status of on-going fighting over the systems.