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. You need to know this news in the fight for a secure retirement.
In case you missed it, October is National Retirement Security Month! All month long, NPPC is sharing facts and information about workers’ ability to attain a secure, dignified retirement, as well as ways you can get involved in advocating for public pensions. Check out the latest blog in our series on retirement (in)security in America – read Understanding the Retirement Savings Gap today!
Public Employee Shortages Continue to Plague Communities
Alaska public employees lost their pension system in 2006, and as we’ve covered many times this year, the state is now suffering a growing shortage of public employees, and subsequent interruptions in the delivery of public services. Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson announced a plan this week to shore up snow removal services, after staff vacancies and heavy snows caused major problems last year, closing schools and businesses, and leaving residents stranded for days.
The lack of correctional officers in nearby Seward has forced the city to close its city jail. Seward Community Jail, which often serves as a temporary holding place for inmates awaiting transfer, only has two of the six correctional officers required to operate the facility safely. The jail will remain closed until at least two more officers are hired and trained.
Staffing woes are also challenging communities in Connecticut, where towns are struggling to recruit and retain municipal workers, including specialists like building inspectors, town hall workers, assessors, and zoning specialists, in addition to teachers, police officers, and firefighters. Competition to attract and retain employees has caused strife between neighboring municipalities, prompting the development of regional service-sharing programs to ease delays and shortages in services. Last year, state lawmakers passed HB 6930, a bill designed to shore up the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System. Easing the financial burdens placed on individual townships and ensuring state and local government employees will be able to participate in the pension system is part of the effort to fill vacancies.
State and local government job vacancies in New York prompted the New York State Senate Civil Service and Pension Committee to hold a public hearing about the desperate need to attract municipal employees and keep them on the job. Public Employees Federation (PEF) Vice President Randi DiAntonio noted that the heavily reformed, six-tier pension system is partially to blame. “The state retirement plan was once called the ‘career plan,’” DiAntonio said. “That is because defined benefit plans are designed to reward longevity and service. The tier six plan does not provide incentives to remain in state service.”
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