Welcome to July’s final edition of This Week in Pensions! This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement. 

Before you dive into our top stories from this week, check out some stories of educators helping their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the top stories from this week: 

Policy analysts: Arizona in need of pension reform by Kimberly James. In this article for the Center Square (an outlet frequently critical of public pensions), James interviews Jon Riches, a policy staffer with the Goldwater Institute, about the harmful idea that the state of Arizona should switch from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans for its public employees. The Goldwater Institute is part of the State Policy Network, a prominent right-wing organization founded by the Koch Brothers that funnels money into producing biased research against public pensions. It’s no surprise, then, that Riches falsely claimed that systems like the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) in the state were in funding trouble. As of this writing, the system has a funded ratio above 70 percent. Switching to a defined contribution system would be disastrous for both public employees and the state, as 401(k)s are subject to the whims of the market and are costlier to implement than defined benefit plans. 

AFT retirees are ready for action by Adrienne Coles. In this article for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Coles writes about how retirees from AFT met virtually last Thursday to discuss how to best organize around protecting educators during the coronavirus pandemic. Retired educator Rita Runnels spoke of the power of organizing by highlighting her experience testifying before the Texas state legislature in 2018. During her testimony, Runnels spoke about the importance of the state’s teacher pension system and granting a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) so retirees aren’t left behind by the state’s increasing cost of living. As a result of her and other retirees’ advocacy, the state legislature decided not to increase healthcare premiums and to grant a 13th check for retirees that year. “We are still organizing during the pandemic and held a virtual summit in June,” Runnels said. “Although we are locked up in our homes, it doesn’t mean we can’t effect change.” 

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