Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! As we do most weeks, we have gathered the top stories about pensions and retirement security from the previous week. This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement.

Here are this week’s top stories:

  • A simple way to make retirement savings easier for Americans by Bob Guillocheau: to address the retirement savings crisis, half a dozen states have established state-sponsored retirement savings programs, commonly known as “Secure Choice” programs. Last year the Obama administration issued regulations about these plans. Those regulations, which support the establishment of these programs, are now under attack in Congress. If the regulations are repealed, that will deal a significant blow to efforts to improve retirement security for working families.
  • Criticism of CalPERS is often misplaced by Richard Costigan: CalPERS board member and self-described fiscal conservative Costigan pushes back against the often unfair criticism leveled at CalPERS. As he says: “Pensions are a shared responsibility. Employers and employees have been contributing together ever since CalPERS first opened its doors in 1932, eight years before the first Social Security check was issued. Every payment CalPERS has made to a retiree in the past 85 years has helped them achieve some measure of financial security in their retirement.”
  • Retain local control over city pensions by Omaha World-Herald editorial board: the editorial board opposes legislation that would force Omaha and Lincoln to move their police officers and firefighters from traditional pensions into less-secure cash balance plans. One big reason for their opposition: the challenges of recruiting and retaining public safety officers when localities abandon traditional pensions.
  • Pew Trust: WV ‘tremendous turnaround story’ for pensions by Phil Kabler: the Pew Charitable Trusts- not always a fan of traditional pensions- testified before West Virginia’s Finance and Pension committees this week. The Pew researchers pointed to West Virginia’s success in dramatically improving its pension funding levels. “It’s the sticking with the plan that has gotten West Virginia to the progress it has made,” said Pew’s David Draine.
  • Kansas must stop using KPERS as credit by Anthony Hensley: state senator Hensley criticizes Gov. Brownback’s efforts to raid the pension fund to fill holes in the budget caused by his failed tax policy. Last year the governor “borrowed” $97 million from the pension fund with promises to pay it back. This year he is proposing not only to never repay that money, but also to cap future contributions to the pension fund at 2016 levels. This would add $6.5 billion in unfunded liability to the Kansas public pension system.

Be sure to check back next week for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!