It’s the first day of Winter–the holidays are in full swing, and from here on out, we’ll start getting more daylight instead of less. As we hunker down for a long few months of snow storms and polar vortexes, we here at NPPC are getting fired up for the 2023 state legislative sessions. We know there are quite a few Scrooges out there who are trying to freeze out public employees by replacing their defined-benefit pensions with 401(k)-style defined-contribution retirement plans, but this year we remain dedicated to protecting pensions for the diligent public-sector workers we rely on.
We’ve been through a lot as a nation in 2022. Inflation has reached historic levels, and we endured contentious midterm elections. Covid-19 continues to impact the economy and the job market. The silver lining is that we had some big wins this year in terms of pension legislation:
- Colorado legislators agreed to pay $380M from the PERA Cash Fund to PERA’s investment fund, to repay PERA for its missed contribution in 2020, part of a trend of fiduciary discipline that we also saw in states like Connecticut.
- In Kansas, Senate lawmakers introduced SB 553, an attempt to move new hires to a thrift-savings plan in 2024. Defined-contribution plans like thrift-savings are more expensive and less reliable than defined-benefit pensions. Our coalition killed the bill and successfully preserved pensions for future public employees.
- In Arizona, the state narrowly avoided a fiscal catastrophe after Representative Jake Hoffman sponsored HB 2637, a partisan attempt to base state investments, including the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) and the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS), on ideology instead of investment performance. Since 56.35% of the state’s pension funds generate revenue from investment earnings, this bill could have had a disastrous effect on the systems.
With the support of NPPC, our state coalitions lit a fire under their legislators and let them know that public employees deserve the warmth of knowing that their pensions are safe and secure.
Much like snowflakes, every legislative session is unique, and we are gearing up for a blizzard of pension activity in 2023. Notably, we look forward to addressing Alaska’s public employee recruitment and retention crisis by reintroducing defined-benefit pensions to Alaska Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). And we will continue to plow through attempts to close pension systems to new hires in places like North Dakota, where lawmakers are trying to push through a misguided switch to defined-contribution plans.
So as you gather with your loved ones this holiday season, remember the folks who clear the snow off the roads, the sanitation workers who’ll take away all the discarded Christmas bows and boxes, the public safety officers who don’t have the luxury of taking holidays off, and all the public employees who keep our communities safe and running smoothly. One of the best gifts we can give them this year is the promise of a secure retirement.
Happy Holidays from NPPC!