Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! 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 the top stories from this week:
Opinion: Legislators who sold us out on PERS don’t merit our support by Stacy Chamberlain. Chamberlain, the executive director of Oregon AFSCME Council 75, writes in this opinion piece for the Oregonian about why the council will disqualify several state lawmakers from its endorsement process next year. Chamberlain states that any lawmaker who supported Senate Bill 1049, which contained anti-worker language that would have diverted money from members’ individual accounts to pay down pension debt, would not be eligible for Oregon AFSCME Council 75’s endorsement process for the 2020 elections. “We stand with legislators who stand with us,” Chamberlain wrote. “However, if you tell our members that you will support them and then vote to decrease their total compensation then why should we ever believe you again?”
The states where taxpayers should worry most about pensions by Doug Whiteman. In an article for MSN, Whiteman uses only unfunded liability as a metric to argue that taxpayers should worry about the future of pension systems in certain states. And as in this article, it is used to create confusion that oftentimes drives policymakers to make disastrous decisions about retirement policy for public employees. The unfunded liability merely shows the percentage of benefits the system could pay out if everyone in the plan decided to withdraw their benefits, something that has never occurred.
State retirees to get ‘paltry’ bonus checks by Laura Leslie. Leslie reports from the North Carolina statehouse that the state’s Senate did not support a permanent cost-of-living adjustment, instead voting to give retirees a one-time bonus of 0.5 percent this year and in 2020. This came despite the fact that the state Senate passed two major tax cuts that will cost the state more than $150 million in the next fiscal year. The last time North Carolina public retirees received a significant cost-of-living adjustment was before the Great Recession. “Is that the best we can do for retirees, and making it a one-time bonus and not a recurring cost-of-living adjustment?” said Sen. Erica Smith, D-Northampton, in the article. “It seems a little bit paltry to me.”
Study says teachers pension problems still not solved by Christopher Keating. In his article about Connecticut teachers’ pension system for the Hartford Courant, Keating cites a new study from the conservative Yankee Institute which claims that the state is not doing enough for its pension system. The Yankee Institute is a part of the State Policy Network, a Koch Brothers umbrella organization that conducts misleading research which is biased against workers and retirement security. Learn more about the State Policy Network and its attempts to influence public policy across the nation in our video, How The Koch Brothers Steal Your Pension.
In Kentucky, a governor’s Trumpian personality is on the ballot by Tim Craig. Washington Post national correspondent Tim Craig previews the Nov. 5 governor’s race in Kentucky by highlighting Gov. Matt Bevin’s attempt to slash public pensions during his tenure. Craig writes that “in office, Bevin’s efforts to balance the state budget and reform the state’s pension system quickly escalated into a political brawl with Kentucky teachers,” leading to teachers staging protests and walkouts against Bevin’s proposal to cut benefits and increase teachers’ contributions to the pension system. Bevin’s opponent in the election, State Attorney General Andy Beshear, opposed the proposal and successfully sued to stop its implementation at the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Be sure to check back next week for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!