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:

National Public Pension Coalition’s legislative analysis shows gains in 2019 by Hazel Bradford. So far in 2019, NPPC and our state coalitions have been working hard for current and retired public employees. In her piece, Bradford highlights some of the legislative successes NPPC’s coalitions have had across the country, including in Texas, New Hampshire, and Colorado. Bridget Early, NPPC’s Executive Director commented in the piece, “We’ve certainly been able to move the ball forward in a way that public employees have not seen in quite a lot of time.” Bradford wrote, “Ms. Early attributed the positive changes in part to helping policymakers understand the impact on retired public servants, especially when COLAs are cut or not keeping up with inflation, and on local economies.”

Ballot measures would worsen PERS problems by Bridget Early. In an op-ed for the Pamplin Media Group in Oregon, NPPC’s Executive Director Bridget Early argues that ballot initiatives proposed by a corporate-backed group, PERS Solutions, are bad for the state and for the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). Early cites the decisions made by West Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska, Michigan, and Palm Beach, Florida as examples as to why public pension funds should not be closed. “Even after retirements were cut in the 2019 legislature, these initiatives would stop pensions altogether, breaking the promises made to teachers and other public employees, and replace them with risky defined contribution-style retirement plans. Oregonians should soundly reject these ballot measures after hard lessons have been learned in other communities who similarly undertook such a massive and expensive upheavals to their retirement systems only to reverse course and reinstate their pensions for public employees,” said Early. 

Public employees sue Oregon over pension law by the Associated Press. In April, we wrote about Governor Kate Brown’s anti-pension proposal and how it would adversely affect current public employees participating in PERS. In response to the legislation, SB 1049, which ultimately passed and was signed by the governor, nine Oregon public employees filed a lawsuit with the Oregon Supreme Court. The plaintiffs argue in their lawsuit that “the legislation amounts to a breach of contract and illegal taking because it reduces the amount of retirement benefits for the employees.” PERS is one of the best-funded pension systems in the country, with a funding level of 80 percent. 

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