By Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY, NY-- The state pension fund grew to a record $160.4 billion in the fiscal year that ended March 31 and earned an estimated 10.38 percent rate of return, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.
The increase in the pension fund, which provides retirement benefits to 1 million retirees and state and local government employees, is good news for the state and municipalities. The governments have struggled with growing pension costs amid the decline on Wall Street.
"The New York State Common Retirement Fund has reached a milestone," DiNapoli said in a statement. "The fund ended the fiscal year at an estimated $160.4 billion, an all-time high, and it remains well-positioned for growth as the financial markets continue to gain strength. Fiscal year 2014-2015 will be the final year that employer contribution rates will reflect the market loss of 2008-2009."
The pension fund is the third-largest public pension fund in the country. Analysts have found it to be one of the best-funded pension plans in the nation.
Pension costs have skyrocketed for local governments, leading to cuts in services and staff. The state has implemented a pension-borrowing program to let local governments pay for growing costs and alleviate spikes in expenses.