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.
Oklahoma House votes to reinstate public employee pension plan by Randy Krehbiel. In a significant victory for the public employees of Oklahoma this week, House lawmakers passed House Bill 2486, terminating the Oklahoma Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) defined-contribution plan created by the Retirement Freedom Act, and reopening the OPERS defined-benefit plan. The bill, which passed 68-23, was sponsored by Representative Avery Frix, who emphasized the value of a defined-benefit plan when it comes to recruiting and retaining the best employees. We’ve seen overwhelming evidence revealing how converting employees to a 401(k)-style retirement is detrimental to state systems, both financially and in maintaining adequate staffing. With the switch back to a defined-benefit plan, legislators expect to save the state money on administrative costs by eliminating the cost of managing several different systems and due to the economic efficiency of defined-benefit plans.
Cass County courts employees retain defined benefit pension plan by Ryan Yeunger. The Cass County Independent Employees Association (CCIEA) in Michigan also had a big win in the fight for fair retirement this week. While county officials have addressed their growing unfunded liability by transitioning other public employees to defined-contribution style retirement plans, CCIEA members won the right to retain their pensions through the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System defined-benefit plan. Cass County Administrator Jeff Carmen said, “The most cost-saving option was to close the pension and just begin something else. That would have saved us millions of dollars, but our evaluation was that it was too much of a burden to place on our employees … our employees are our greatest resource.” This statement comes less than a year after other Cass County public employees, including police officers, publicly expressed their dismay at losing their pensions in September 2021.
State Bill Would Make EMS Essential Service by John Whittaker. Two New York State legislators, Assemblyman Steve Otis and Senator Shelley Mayer introduced a bill this month that would establish Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as an essential service, granting EMS staff access to state health insurance and eligibility to participate in the state pension system. A.9509/S.8342 would also standardize EMS training and create more comprehensive and quality care for communities throughout the state. Currently, New York, like many other states, is experiencing a staffing shortage in the public sector, specifically in EMT services. Offering a defined-benefit retirement plan has shown to improve recruitment and retention of public employees, “There is a staffing crisis in EMT services around the state. We must give EMT services the tools they need to attract and retain the personnel they require. This legislation will be an important step,” Otis said.
Be sure to check back in next Friday for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!