Wyoming concluded its brief 2016 legislative session last month. The 2016 session was brief because it was exclusively focused on passing a budget. The good news for working people in Wyoming is that the legislature maintained its commitment to fully funding its state pension plan.
As we’ve written before, Wyoming’s state pension plan covers almost all public employees in the state. It pays a modest, but reliable annual average pension benefit of $18,178. And 78 percent of those pension payments stay in Wyoming, generating economic activity throughout the state.
One reason for the success of the Wyoming Retirement System is the state’s commitment to funding discipline. States get into trouble when they skip payments into their pension system. This is a well-documented fact. All pension plans faced financial challenges during the Great Recession. The ones that maintained their commitment to funding were able to weather those challenges and recover as the economy recovered. For a state like Wyoming, where the local economy is heavily influenced by oil and natural gas, these are again challenging times as the energy sector has seen a drop in prices. The fact that the state legislature is maintaining its commitment to funding the state pension plan is significant. This shows that Wyoming values the contributions of its teachers, firefighters, and other public servants to making the state great. Other states should follow their example and commit to protecting a secure retirement for their public employees.