Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! As we do most weeks, we have gathered the best 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:

  • Forget naysayers: Public pension funds doing fine by Dave Low: the two largest public pension plans in California recently reported their investment returns. For the past year, CalPERS earned an 8.6 percent rate of return and CalSTRS earned a 9 percent return. Even more importantly, both plans’ long-term rates of return are strong. Over the last 30 years, CalPERS has earned an 8.1 percent annual rate of return and over the last 25 years, CalSTRS has earned a 7.7 percent return. This proves that the anti-pension ideologues are wrong. Public pension plans in California will be able to meet their obligations to retirees.
  • Don’t trust GOP’s IPERS promises by Mary Cashman Verry: an Iowa resident warns voters about believing the promises of Republican state legislators that they won’t gut the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS). Following their attacks on collective bargaining rights for public employees and state Medicaid benefits, Cashman Verry argues voters are right to be mistrustful of promises to protect IPERS.
  • Walker Stapleton is on a crusade for fiscal responsibility, and he hopes it will take him to the Colorado governor’s office by Jon Murray: if you follow Colorado politics even slightly, then you know that Walker Stapleton is the current State Treasurer and Republican candidate for governor. He is also a vicious opponent of public pensions, a stance made clear in this profile in The Denver Post. We talked about Stapleton and his hypocrisy about PERA, Colorado’s public pension system, in our recent series on gubernatorial elections and public pensions. This profile raises questions about whether he is even effective in his anti-pension crusade. “In terms of, did Walker have a major impact on what happened and changes that were made? No,” said Lynn E. Turner, who left the [PERA] board this summer after serving for 11 years. “To say he deserves credit for that is woefully misleading.”
  • $5B+ public pension liability nearly as large as state’s entire annual budget by Dave Solomon: the New Hampshire Union-Leader has, unfortunately, chosen to highlight the misleading findings of a notorious anti-pension organization, called Truth in Accounting, in its coverage of the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS). As is often the case with anti-pension ideologues, the cited report takes the unfunded liability of NHRS and makes it sound like the sky is falling. Public pension benefits are never due all at once, which means the state has decades to pay down its unfunded liability while still providing benefits to retirees. Also, NHRS recently reported that it earned 8.9 percent on its investments for the past fiscal year, well above its assumed rate of 7.25 percent. This shows that, over the long term, pension plans can meet their obligations.

We’ll be taking next week off from This Week in Pensions to focus on National Retirement Security Week, but be sure to check back in the weeks ahead for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!