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.

Economic instability pushing KPERS investment returns into negative territory by Tim Carpenter. The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) is just one of the many public retirement systems in the country that has had to endure instability in the stock market this year. KPERS Executive Director Alan Conroy spoke to House and Senate members in Topeka this week, saying, “If you have the strength to watch the markets these days, the volatility — October was a great month, but some of the months have not been so good. We’ll see where we end up at the end of December. But, I think, where we stand right now, the return will probably be negative for calendar year 2022.” In May, KPERS reduced the assumed investment return from 7.75% to 7%, which is in line with other pension funds, to account for market volatility. KPERS is 72% funded – up more than 16% since the height of mismanagement in 2012, when former Governor Sam Brownback was in office. The Brownback administration neglected to fund KPERS properly and even borrowed $115 million from the fund after major tax cuts negatively impacted the Kansas economy.

Retirements, benefits gap put strain on Trumbull police by Amanda Cuda. The police force in Trumbull, Connecticut is facing a staffing crisis, and Police Chief Michael Lombardo knows exactly why: officers are leaving the force for neighboring departments that offer defined-benefit pensions. “We can’t retain people because of it, there’s no security for our families and we can’t compete for recruitment,” said Robert Coppola, vice president of Trumbull’s police union. Trumbull stopped offering pensions to new police hires 8 years ago, replacing it with an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. The retention and recruitment problem is not unique to Trumbull; earlier this year, the nearby city of Waterbury ordered a comprehensive efficiency study of the police department to address claims that lack of benefits is causing their staffing deficit. In 2019, the city of Brandford, Connecticut reopened its defined-benefit system to the police department after its closure in 2011 increased costs and made it significantly more difficult to recruit and retain officers. On Thursday, Trumbull’s Board of Finance will vote on whether or not to hire a consultant to determine the possibility of reopening the defined-benefit system.

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