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.

Before diving into our top stories from this week, check out new stories of public employees helping their communities.

Schwartz: Support the Wyoming Retirement System by Andy Schwartz. In this op-ed, Wyoming State Representative Andy Schwartz recognizes the value and impact of public employees in their communities. Aside from the direct influence public employees have during their careers, Schwartz also points out the significant financial role retired public workers play in the state, saying, “As it turns out, public employees are not only critically important to Wyoming during their career, but well into retirement, too. In 2018, Wyoming’s public sector retiree benefits constituted 1-3% of each county’s GDP. For rural communities that have lost population over the last decade, retiree spending keeps communities afloat.” Pensions are a key component in recruiting and retaining talented employees to the public sector workforce. “According to the Wyoming Retirement System (WRS), about 87% of state employees surveyed in 2019 said a defined benefit pension is ‘mostly important’ or ‘very important’ in keeping them in their current employment,” Schwartz says. “This benefit is crucial to recruiting and retaining competent and qualified state workers.”

Comptroller candidates disagree on direction of CT’s finances by Keith M. Phanuef. The mid-term elections in Connecticut are thrusting the state’s fiduciary discipline practices into the spotlight. Connecticut’s pension management history has been dicey in the past, but the last decade has seen the state move forward positively in addressing its pensions liabilities. In the last four years alone, lawmakers made nearly $6 billion in supplemental pension payments in addition to the regularly scheduled payments of $2.9 billion per year. Legislators also refinanced the pension system to avoid spikes in required contributions and subsequent burdens on taxpayers. The state comptroller in Connecticut administers employee and retiree benefits and is responsible for maintaining transparency in financial reporting. 

Several governor races could have impact on state retirement plans by Courtney Degen. Like Connecticut, public pensions in states all across the country are due to be affected by the results of the general election next Tuesday. This article for Pensions & Investments discusses four states–Oregon, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Illinois–where the gubernatorial election outcomes could have significant consequences for public pension systems. In Oregon, it could mean changes to how the state has addressed the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund deficit. In Florida, anti-ESG proposals by current governor Ron DeSantis will inhibit the state pension system’s investment options. In Colorado, the size of the public workforce, and subsequent employee contributions to Colorado PERA, hang in the balance of the governor’s race there. New Mexico’s incumbent governor has reduced the timetable to fully fund the state’s public pension system by raising employee and employer contributions while simultaneously granting current retirees over 75 a .5% cost of living adjustment. In Illinois, pension reform has been proposed by both candidates to address the state’s $130 billion liability.

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