Twelve years ago, the National Public Pension Coalition (NPPC) was established. In 2007, public pensions were under attack, and since then, we’ve seen many of the same anti-pension opponents continue to demean public employees and their hard-earned pensions. NPPC has been on the front lines of these fights, working with public employees across the nation to ensure that they can continue to retire with dignity and security. We’ve also been involved in proactive fights, advancing the protections and benefits public employees worked for throughout their careers. 

For today’s post in Defined Benefit, we wanted to share five of our favorite victories and projects from the last five years. 

  1. COLA in New Hampshire 

This year, New Hampshire retired public employees received a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the first time in over a decade. The New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, NPPC’s coalition in-state, fought alongside retired public employees to make sure the COLA bill made its way through the legislature and was signed by the governor.

  1. Matt Bevin’s 2018 Special Session Disaster

Readers of Defined Benefit know all about Kentucky’ Governor Matt Bevin and his deceptive tactics, including the deplorable ways he treats public employees. In 2018, lawmakers inserted the language from an anti-pension bill into a wastewater treatment bill, SB151 and proceeded to ram it through at the very last minute of the legislative session. Lawmakers did this so they could cut down on the amount of time it took to pass legislation. After a court challenge, the bill was overturned and ruled unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court because the legislature failed to follow proper procedures during the passage of the bill.

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Governor Bevin called a special session of the legislature right before the holiday season. As we wrote in Kentucky: A Historical Look at Public Pensions, without a plan or votes in the legislature, the special session ended less than 24 hours after it was called without any legislation being passed – a total embarrassment for the governor. 

  1. COLA for Texas teachers 

Joining retired public employees in New Hampshire, retired teachers in Texas received their first COLA in over a decade this year. After a hard fight, and telling their stories to the public and lawmakers from around the state, the legislature listened and provided retired teachers with a “13th check” of up to $2,000. As the cost of necessary items like groceries, medicine, and housing increases, many retirees are having trouble keeping up. COLAs or “13th check” legislation will continue to help retirees live with security and dignity. 

  1. Pensions on Main Street 

This year, NPPC launched an exciting new project called Pensions on Main Street. Far too often, the public and lawmakers forget about the economic impact public pensions have on communities across the country. Retired public employees and their pensions support jobs, local businesses, and their communities. This project was started so we could spread awareness of the vital role pensions play in economies around the country. We launched a new section of our website, a video, and the Pension Bucks campaign. Pension Bucks have been supplied to active and retired public employees across the country. These Pension Bucks contain information such as how much total economic output pensions contribute to in each state, as well as the jobs, income, and tax revenue that are positively impacted by pension benefit spending. 

  1. Puerto Rico in 2016

In 2016, Puerto Rico was facing a financial crisis. The island territory of the United States had a substantial debt crisis and creditors of the island were demanding payments and the territory could not keep up. Along with their debt issues, Puerto Rico’s public employee pension system faced a large unfunded liability. To protect the modest pensions of currently retired and future retired public employees, NPPC ran a campaign to ask Congress to protect retirement security for Puerto Rican public employees. This campaign, along with the many campaigns of NPPC’s allies, sought to protect everyday folks from the financial mismanagement of their government and the questionable lending practices of Wall Street. In June of this year, a deal was reached to restructure more than $50 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. 

As we conclude another year of successfully fighting for public employees and their retirements, NPPC would like to thank all of the hard-working current and retired public employees who have been on the front lines with us. Without you, your stories, and your participation, none of these fights would have been successful. Looking forward to another great year ahead!