It’s now the end of National Save for Retirement Week. Hopefully this week you’ve thought some more about how pensions provide the safest and most secure retirement for working families. Unfortunately, when public pensions are cut by irresponsible politicians, those cuts harm the middle class.
Public employees like teachers, firefighters, and librarians work in solidly middle class jobs. These dedicated public servants are the backbone of communities and most of them still receive a defined benefit pension after years of public service. Their pension allows them to devote their time to serving their communities- and sometimes risking their lives- without having to worry about managing their own retirement. Unfortunately, this retirement security is being threatened by irresponsible politicians like Chris Christie and Bruce Rauner and anti-pension ideologues like John Arnold.
Over the last thirty years, middle class families have fallen behind as more income and wealth are concentrated at the top. Providing middle class families with a defined benefit pension is one way to level the playing field. In fact, an NCPERS study found that a single negative change to public pensions, like a decrease in benefits or an increase in employee contributions, increased income inequality by 15 percent. At a time when working families are worried about a looming retirement crisis, irresponsibly cutting pensions for public employees is a bad idea. In the spirit of National Save for Retirement Week, governors and state legislators should recommit to providing a safe and secure retirement for public employees through a defined benefit pension.