Welcome to the last edition of This Week in Pensions in 2022! 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.

‘That’s terrible:’ Georgia lawmakers look for ways to raise law enforcement pay statewide by Brianna Cook. Filling job vacancies in the public sector has become increasingly difficult for government agencies across the country. In Georgia, officials are seeking ways to fill their public safety officer gap specifically, and some of the recommendations from the interim committee of lawmakers are alarming. The committee supports raising the starting wage for police officers to $56,000 a year and creating a law enforcement bachelor’s degree program through the Georgia university system to serve as an employment pipeline. However, the committee also recommended “creating an optional statewide law enforce retirement system that firefighters and police could choose to join rather than their local agency’s pension plan.” What this optional retirement system would entail is still to be determined, but the state would be wise to consider the examples other states have set and how the repercussions of taking pensions away from police officers will affect recruitment and retention in the years to come. 

OPINION: Alaska’s education funding model is broken by Kevin Voss. This op-ed by a 16-year teaching veteran of the Anchorage School District explores the nuanced reasons why Alaska is facing a crisis in its education system and solutions lawmakers could consider in the 2023 legislative session. Alaska school systems are facing draconian budget cuts that reduce the number of support staff such as custodians and paraprofessionals, eliminate free lunch programs for students, and limit pay increases for teachers–many of whom have been navigating the challenges of the post-Covid academic landscape while facing staffing shortages and wage stagnation. One way to ease educators’ financial burden and workplace stress is to offer them a defined-benefit pension through the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). Pensions will also help the state recruit and retain much-needed talent. Alaska’s problems started back in 2006 when it closed its pension system. They’ve faced a long road to reopening the system, however, next year may finally signal a breakthrough in this struggle. 

LACERA Pension Spending Boosts L.A. County Economy by More Than $2 Billion by Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association. One core fact about public pensions is that they are a major economic driver in urban and rural areas all over America. Working with Beacon Economics, the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA) reported that in 2021, the more than 42,000 public pensioners residing in Los Angeles County generated a total economic output of $2.7 billion and supported thousands of jobs in the county. This new data reiterates what we have learned by following the Pensionomics project by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), which reported in 2021 that Pension Spending Supports $1.3 Trillion In Output, 6.9 Million Jobs, $192 Billion in Tax Revenue Across U.S. Economy. The bottom line? Pensions support retirees AND the communities in which they live. 

Be sure to check back in a few weeks for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!