Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement. We have gathered the top stories about pensions and retirement security from the previous week.
Did you have a chance to read NPPC’s latest blog? Hidden Agendas: Is Secure Illinois Retirements a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? provides an in-depth look at the Equable Institute-related organization, Secure Illinois Retirements (SIR), and the dangerous anti-pension narrative they’re pushing on public employees. As dark money continues to float anti-pension policy, we remain dedicated to uncovering the hidden agendas behind groups that claim to be labor and worker-focused.
[National Conference of State Legislatures]
This week, Indianapolis hosted the National Conference Of State Legislatures’ annual Legislative Summit, convening state legislators from around the country. A Panel discussion entitled “Retirement System Resilience in a Wobbly Economy” featured North Dakota House Majority Leader Mike Lefor proudly taking a victory lap for his efforts to destroy the retirement security of hard-working public employees with HB 1040 – the most expensive bill in state history.
During his remarks, Lefor specifically thanked the libertarian Reason Foundation and their allies at TIAA for pro bono strategic support of his draconian bill. Left unsaid was that TIAA is positioned to receive a huge windfall as the administrator of the replacement defined contribution retirement plan that will be offered to state employees once the pension system is closed. The bill was written specially to benefit TIAA. According to the state’s own retirement system, the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System, only one vendor on the market could fulfill public employees’ retirement needs due to the way HB 1040 was drafted. That product is offered only by TIAA. Lefor’s glowing praise of TIAA at NCSL exposes what could be a massive conflict of interest.
We suspect this won’t be the last we hear about TIAA and its complicated relationship with Reason, Lefor, and the closure of the North Dakota Public Employee Retirement System.
The city of West Haven, CT, has taken steps to increase police retention by reintroducing a defined-benefit pension plan for the West Haven Police Department. In 2009, the city ended pension benefits for police, instead offering a 401(k)-style defined contribution retirement plan. That move proved to be detrimental to employee retention, city officials say. City council members noted that the department had been plagued by officers training in West Haven and then leaving for suburban police forces that offer defined-benefit pensions. City Council Chairman Peter Massaro said the decision was “a long time coming” and “the best thing that’s happened” since he came into office.
Illinois has been at the forefront of pension news lately– between the introduction of the aforementioned ominous “grassroots” organization SIR and continuing reports on the state’s unfunded liabilities, NPPC has kept an ear to the ground for grumblings of pension reform. This week, Ralph Martire, Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and Professor of Public Policy at Roosevelt University in Chicago, wrote an opinion piece detailing one specific way to help improve the pension system’s funding in Illinois–offer employees better benefits. Martite highlights a key element often overlooked by state legislators aiming to close pension systems: increasing benefits instead of slashing them will recruit and retain more employees, increasing the amount of money going into the funds through employee contributions. Enticing public workers to stay on the job with fair and reasonable benefits will not only help to fund the pension system, but it will also save the state money currently being wasted on employee turnover.
Be sure to check back next Friday for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement! For now, sign up for NPPC News Clips to receive daily pension news from across the country directly to your inbox.