Friday, July 12, 2019

New PRB Chair Stephanie Leibe aims to continue work set by predecessor

By Joe Gimenez, Guest Contributor

Public finance attorney Stephanie Leibe chaired her first meeting for the Pension Review Board on June 27. Leibe is taking over from former chairman Josh McGee.

Stephanie Leibe
“It is truly an honor that I recognize and am humbled by the confidence that has been placed in me by Governor [Greg] Abbott, and for that I am thankful,” Leibe said in her opening statement. “I am also thankful for guidance and leadership that Josh has provided to this Board for the last three-and-a-half years.” 

Leibe served for 13 years as an assistant attorney general in the Texas Attorney General’s office where she was chief of the public finance division. She also served as general counsel to the Texas Bond Review Board providing legal advice on both state agency bond issuances and private activity bond allocations. She currently works in the Austin office of the global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright. Her firm provides legal counsel to the city of Wimberly, and she was recently reported as advising city leaders they could impose a property tax to pay down debt without holding an election. 

Unlike McGee, Leibe does not have a well-publicized record of her views on public employee pension funds, but she has set her sights on continuing work begun by McGee.

“I would like to see a future which looks very much like our recent past,” she said. “I think the intensive reviews that the board has been undertaking have provided lots of good valuable guidance both to the funds that have been subject to the reviews and also for funds that can benefit from the information that has come out of those reviews.”

McGee instituted intensive review processes to be a sort of early warning system before triggers require funds to create Funding Soundness Restoration Plans to bring their amortization period below 40 years. The Pension Review Board established wide-ranging criteria for starting an intensive review process. The criteria expanded beyond the amortization periods set in statutes so that any metric, like funded ratio or unfunded liabilities, may catch PRB staff’s eye.

McGee also was active in forming legislation for the Houston and Dallas pension reform efforts in 2017. He also had a role in shaping legislation recently passed in Senate Bill 322 and SB 2224. Leibe acknowledged the new state laws requiring funding policies and independent consultant reviews of investments.

“The agency and the board have been given additional mandates by the Legislature,” Leibe said, “and so I look forward to working cooperatively with the funds, with the board, with the agency itself to implement those mandates in a way that is both open and transparent and has good communication both between the funds and the state.”

McGee participated as a board member at the June 27 meeting. It is unclear when he will formally resign to take up a research assistant professorship at the University of Arkansas this fall. 

The governor’s office cannot officially begin a search for his replacement until he formally resigns, but McGee did say he looks forward to watching the Pension Review Board in the future as an outsider. He has not established, in public comments, a timeline for stepping down.

The Pension Review Board took a few minutes after their June 27 to capture the new leadership assignments. From left are trustees Andrew Cable and Ernest Richards, chairwoman Stephanie Leibe, PRB Executive Director Anumeha Kumar, and trustees Keith Brainard, Josh McGee and Marcia Dush.  Photo credit: Joe Gimenez

About the Author:

No comments:

Post a Comment