Tue. Dec 5th, 2023

Rick Scroggins was enjoying retirement life when he was approached in February about returning to the state Educational Retirement Board in an interim role as deputy director.

On Tuesday, he found himself earning a promotion — also on an interim basis.

The Educational Retirement Board’s trustees voted unanimously at a special meeting Tuesday to appoint Scroggins as the temporary replacement for Executive Director Jan Goodwin after she announced she was resigning to take a job with the New Hampshire Retirement System. Goodwin, who spent almost 13 years as executive director, will leave at the end of the 60-day legislative session March 20.

Scroggins said this was not what he expected when he took over as deputy director — a job he held until retiring from the Educational Retirement Board in 2019.

“I just came back to help bridge a gap because of the [legislative] session and everything else,” said Scroggins, who began working for the board in 2011.

As the interim executive director, he will help oversee an entity that provides retirement benefit services to more than 163,000 members.

The Board of Trustees voted to set up a national search committee of three members, who will present their list of finalists to the entire board.

Scroggins’ salary was set at $150,000 per year, which is $33,000 less than Goodwin’s salary.

Goodwin said she felt the time was right to move in a different direction, and the New Hampshire scenery won her over quickly. Prior to her time with the Educational Retirement Board, she was the Cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department from 2003-08.

“There are rivers and lakes, and a lot of green,” Goodwin said of New Hampshire. “What’s also exciting is the New Hampshire Retirement System covers all of the public employees in the state.”

Goodwin said she felt she brought sustainability to the Educational Retirement Board, which oversees a pension fund of more than $14 billion that pays out $1 billion in benefits annually to more than 51,000 retirees. She added her work with Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, to promote Senate Bill 42, which proposes to gradually increase the taxpayer-funded contribution rate to the fund, hopefully will pay off by the end of the legislative session.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped underscore the value of educators, Goodwin said, and the increase to their retirement benefit has been long overdue.

“It highlights all of the sacrifices all of our members have made over time,” Goodwin said. “It’s time for the state to increase the employer contributions. There is no more room to decrease benefits for members or increase their contribution rate.”

Scroggins said he has a strong support staff around him that should make the transition easier.

“They know what they’re doing, and that really helps,” Scroggins said. “It’s not like building something from scratch, and we have a good, consistent board that has been active and supportive. All I need to do is keep the wheels on the road.”

By senior