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Missouri could lose AAA bond rating, state treasurer says

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - The state is in danger of losing its triple bond rating, according to Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

It's all about the state employees' retirement system being underfunded, Schmitt said.

Schmitt, who was sworn in last month, said the first major problem he’s tackling is that very issue.

“On a scale of one to 10 in regards to how worried I am, it’s a 10, no question!” he said.

Schmitt said he’s sounding the alarm because a lot is at stake. He said politicians have kicked the can down the road.

“Our state’s largest pension fund for state employees is only 64 percent funded,” he said.

Schmitt said it’s actually worse because it assumes an unreasonable rate of return. Not only is this a major concern for state workers pensions, but also our long-term state fiscal health.

“This is the single most risk to our state’s AAA bond rating. We are one of seven states with a AAA bond rating. That’s a big deal,” he said.

So how do lawmakers fix it? Schmitt said they start having these uncomfortable talks now, both Democrats and Republicans, because they owe six million Missourians answers.

“Let’s look at this as a 10 year process. We can do it, but we can’t ignore it,” he said.