The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments kicked off last week. As always, there were major upsets as underdogs beat expectations and high-seeded teams lost earlier than expected. While March Madness is sweeping the nation, we here at NPPC are going mad over something else: pensions. We love pensions as much as an undergrad loves basketball.

Let’s take a look at a few states and how they are doing in the fight for retirement security:

  • Wisconsin: Just as the University of Wisconsin men’s team upset Xavier last night, the state of Wisconsin recently scored a slam dunk for retirement security when it expanded access to public pensions. The newly signed legislation allows additional towns and cities to join the Wisconsin Retirement System and one city has already taken them up on the offer. This bill is a win for workers and their retirement security.
  • Michigan: Michigan State lost in a major upset in the first round of the men’s tournament. In much the same way, the state of Michigan risks a major upset in providing retirement security to its teachers. As Detroit Public Schools struggle with a budget crisis, some anti-pension legislators have proposed forcing all Michigan teachers into an inadequate, defined contribution 401(k)-style system. This would be a mistake. It would gut retirement security for all of Michigan’s teachers and do nothing to resolve the budget crisis facing Detroit Public Schools.
  • North Carolina: The state of North Carolina is well-represented in the NCAA tournament, but it is at risk of fouling out when it comes to providing retirement security for its public employees. Some anti-pension ideologues in the state legislature have proposed moving teachers, nurses, librarians, and other public employees into a defined contribution, 401(k)-style system despite the fact that North Carolina has a well-funded, well-functioning public pension system. If this was a basketball game, these anti-pension legislators would get ejected from the game.
  • Indiana: Indiana University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have both been successful so far in the NCAA tournament. The men’s team defeated their old rival Kentucky this weekend to advance to the Sweet 16. Indiana’s public school teachers scored a win earlier this month when the state legislature defeated a bill that would have allowed school districts to opt out of the pension system for teachers, thus undermining the stability of the system and imperiling retirement security for Hoosier teachers.

Retirement security is no game. The country faces a looming retirement security crisis as a wave of baby boomers prepare to retire with inadequate savings in a 401(k) – or no savings at all. Teachers, firefighters, and other public employees work hard to earn their pensions. The schools in the NCAA tournament have their coaches and fans in their corner. We at NPPC are in the corner of the public employees who are fighting hard to protect their retirement security.