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PENSIONS

Pensions

Unfunded pension liabilities are the dark cloud on the horizon of state budgets; a cloud totaling $4.1 trillion dollars for state-administered public pension plans, as SBS reported this year. Though they represent unavoidable fiscal debt, pension liabilities often slip under the radar when states tally up their spending, thanks to their status as "future payments" and accounting games. Aggressive pension reform is urgently needed in almost every state.

A recent group of studies by the GAO and Fed show how dire the situation really is.  Read about them here.

Courts are weighing in on what pension reform is feasible. Check out our monthly pension litigation update here.

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    • HEADLINES

      Williams Report - July 21, 2014

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | July 21, 2014

      The Williams Report is BACK after a one week hiatus. Be honest, you missed it! Join us on Twitter today by following @StateBudgets and tweeting with the hashtag #SBSBob. 

    • HEADLINES: Michigan

      Detroit's Startup Revolution: How the Motor City is Driving Entrepreneurship

      by Hannah Oh | July 9, 2014

      Detroit, America’s underdog city, is quickly rising as it becomes one of the top destinations for savvy entrepreneurs and business-minded individuals around the country.

    • HEADLINES: Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire , North Carolina

      Williams Report - July 7, 2014

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | July 7, 2014

      We hope you had a great Independence Day weekend! Join us on Twitter today by following @StateBudgets and tweeting with the hashtag #SBSBob.

    • HEADLINES: Illinois, Indiana, Maine , Massachusetts , Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina , Oklahoma

      Special Edition Williams Report July 2, 2014

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | July 2, 2014

      Welcome to a special edition of the Williams Report! There has been a lot of news this week: an important U.S.Supreme Court decision on unions and the end of the fiscal year in many states have been in the headlines. Join us on Twitter today by following @StateBudgets and tweeting with the hashtag #SBSBob.

    • HEADLINES: Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina , Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington

      Williams Report - June 30, 2014

      June 30, 2014

      Join us on Twitter today by following @StateBudgets and tweeting with the hashtag #SBSBob.

    • HEADLINES: California, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina , Pennsylvania, Washington, Louisiana, Montana, Virginia

      Williams Report - June 23, 2014

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | June 23, 2014

      The latest news from State Budget Solutions, including commentary from Bob Williams. Tweet #SBSBob to talk about state budget and pension headlines throughout the nation.

    • HEADLINES: California, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina , Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington

      Williams Report - June 19, 2014

      by Bob Williams | June 19, 2014

      Welcome to the NEW Williams Report! Take a look at the top headlines from this week, provided by State Budget Solutions. And don't forget to tweet with Bob's signature-- #SBSBob!

    • HEADLINES: Pennsylvania

      Auditor General Concerned About Underfunded State Pensions

      CBS Pittsburgh | by Sarah Arbogast | June 6, 2014

      "The crisis is that if we don't tackle this issue, we are going to have either massive tax increases, or we're going to have layoffs of our police and fire personnel," Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said. "And the No. 1 job of local government is public safety."

    • HEADLINES: Kentucky

      Kentucky City Sues State Pension System Over Risky Investments

      WFPL.org | by Jonathan Meador | June 4, 2014

      A Kentucky city is suing the state's public pension system over its investment of county employees' retirement money into "risky" hedge funds.

    • HEADLINES: New Jersey

      Christie's pension plan could trigger another downgrade, S&P warns

      NJ.com | by Salvador Rizzo | June 3, 2014

      Gov. Chris Christie's plan to cut funding for public-worker pensions means New Jersey's debt could be downgraded again sometime in the next three months, a Wall Street credit-rating agency said today in a note to investors.


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    • POLICY BRIEF: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New York

      Constitutional Public Pension Guarantees: Unfair, Unaffordable, and Bad Policy

      The Manhattan Institute | by Stephen D. Eide | August 22, 2013

       

      Seven states have specific clauses in their constitutions that protect public employee pensions: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, and New York. These seven states hold 20 percent of state governments' total pension debt, and many billions more in local pension debt. These states should amend their constitutions to remove language guaranteeing pension benefits for public workers.

    • RESEARCH

      The Funding of State and Local Pensions: 2012–2016

      The Center for State and Local Government Excellence | by Alicia H. Munnell, Jean-Pierre Aubry, Josh Hurwitz, and Madeline Medenica | June 27, 2013

      Despite a rising stock market, the rebound in tax revenues, and increased employee contributions, the funded status of state and local pensions in 2012 declined slightly.

    • RESEARCH

      Public Sector Pension Reform: Addressing Pressing Fiscal Realities from a Long-Term Perspective

      TIAA-CREF Institute | by Thomas L. Gais and Paul J. Yakoboski | June 17, 2013

      There are persistent fiscal and demographic challenges in most states. The public sector workforce is aging as the baby boom cohort moves towards and into traditional retirement ages. Budgetary pressures at the state and local level make it difficult to increase plan funding and maintain the size of the public sector workforce.

    • RESEARCH: Delaware

      Delaware’s Public Employees’ Retirement System: A Complete and Transparent Accounting

      The Mercatus Center | by Eileen Norcross | March 21, 2013

      To be fully funded, Delaware must increase its annual contribution to the pension system based on a market valuation of plan liabilities. This paper analyzes Delaware’s pension system on a fair-market or government- guaranteed basis, with reference to the average US Treasury rate on 10- and 20-year bonds in June 2012. A discussion of the discrepancy between current government accounting conventions and the fair-market value approach and the implications for plan management follows.

    • RESEARCH

      2013 Report on State Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocation

      Wilshire Consulting | by Julia Bonafede | February 27, 2013

      Wilshire Consulting estimates that the ratio of pension assets-to-liabilities, or funding ratio, for all 134 state pension plans was 73% in 2012, down from an estimated 77% in 2011. This deterioration in funding ratio was fueled by global stock market volatility in the twelve months ending June 30, 2012. Growth in fund assets could not keep up with growth in plan liabilities over fiscal 2012.

    • RESEARCH

      Forecasting the Recovery from the Great Recession: Is This Time Different?

      The National Bureau of Economic Research | by Kathryn Dominguez & Matthew Shapiro | February 4, 2013

      Was the slow recovery of the U.S. economy from the trough of the Great Recession anticipated? 

    • RESEARCH

      On Financing Retirement with an Aging Population

      The National Bureau of Economic Research | by Ellen McGrattan & Edward Prescott | February 4, 2013

      Alternative views on the problem the United States is facing: financing retirement consumption as its population ages.

    • RESEARCH

      Pension Markets in Focus: Pension fund assets hit record USD 20.1 trillion in 2011 but investment performance weakens

      The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development | by André Laboul | September 27, 2012

      Recent years have witnessed intense pension reform efforts in countries around the globe, often involving an increased use of funded pension programmes managed by the private sector. These funded arrangements are likely to play an increasingly important role in delivering retirement income in many countries and privately managed pension assets will play an increasing role in financial markets, notably as a source of long-term savings.

      Published annually since 2005 by the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development  (OECD) Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, Pension Markets in Focus provides accurate, comprehensive, comparable and up-to-date statistics to help policy makers, regulators and market participants measure, compare and evaluate programme developments and country experiences globally.

       

       

    • RESEARCH

      The Revenue Demands of Public Employee Pension Promises

      by Robert Novy-Marx and Joshua Rauh | September 16, 2012

      Calculation of the increases in contributions required to achieve full funding of state and local pension
      systems in the U.S. over 30 years. Without policy changes, contributions must increase by a factor of 2.5, reaching 14.1% of the total own-revenue generated by state and local governments.
      This represents a tax increase of $1,385 per household per year.

    • RESEARCH: New York

      Iceberg Ahead

      Empire Center for New York State Policy | by E.J. McMahon | September 5, 2012

      New York taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year on health insurance coverage for retired state and local government employees, many of whom are too young to be eligible for Medicare. But the mounting "pay-as-you-go" bill for retiree healthcare is just the tip of a much larger iceberg. Thanks to a new government accounting standard, the true cost of this long-term entitlement is finally emerging from the depths of state and local finances.


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    • SOLUTIONS: Florida

      Pension Reform Now

      Floridians for Sustainable Pensions | December 2, 2011

      The long-term problem can be addressed by encouraging local governments to place all new employees in 401(k)-style "defined contribution" plans rather than General Motors-style "defined benefit" plans, and to encourage current employees to convert to defined contribution plans as well. This would help ensure that the present costs of government are funded in present budgets.

    • SOLUTIONS: Georgia

      Eight Affordable Ideas for Georgia

      The Georgia Public Policy Foundation | by Eight Affordable Ideas for Georgia | December 2, 2011

      Georgia should continue to push the reforms that have made this one of the best managed states in the nation, but innovation is the best opportunity for true reform. Tax, regulatory and tort reform will create the right conditions for innovation in the private sector while the state pursues innovation in the areas of criminal justice, education and heath care.

    • SOLUTIONS: Alabama

      A Small Price to Pay for Public Pensions

      The Alabama Policy Institute | by Cameron Smith and Gary Palmer | December 2, 2011

      If state and education employees really want fairness, they can certainly keep more of their monthly paychecks, reduce contributions to their retirement and switch to a sensible defined contribution plan like the lion's share of Alabamians.

    • SOLUTIONS: North Dakota

      Pension Reform: Patching the Hole in the Sinking Ship

      North Dakota Policy Council | by Brett Narloch | November 29, 2011

      Opening up the NDPERS's defined-contribution (DC) plan to all workers would have a dramatic impact on the system's bottom line. A DC plan, similar to a 401k plan, would allow the employees and the employer to contribute a defined amount of salaries and wages - say, the current 8.12% - but the state would not have to worry about ensuring the viability of the system.

    • SOLUTIONS: North Dakota

      Moving Forward

      The North Dakota Policy Council | November 29, 2011

      A guide to needed reforms in pensions, taxes and higher education, among other areas, with  two types of goals that are important when working towards limiting government: long-term policy objectives that show the end-game goals and short-term policies that steer public policy towards the long-term goals. This guide provides both.

    • SOLUTIONS: Michigan

      Top 10 Budget Recommendations

      The Mackinac Center for Public Policy | by Jack McHugh | November 29, 2011

      Converting these statistics into actual budget savings involves a combination of straightforward "eat your vegetables" cuts, and process innovations like privatization that generate savings through "second-order" incentive changes throughout the system.

    • SOLUTIONS: Missouri

      Missouri's Public Pension Plans Need to Be Reformed to Maintain Solvency

      The Show-Me Institute | by John Payne | November 29, 2011

      Shifting public pensions from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans could generate higher returns for pensioners while limiting the risk to the public when pensions do not perform well.

    • SOLUTIONS: Washington

      Top 10 Ideas to Cut Waste, Balance the Budget and Stimulate the Economy Without Raising Taxes

      The Freedom Foundation | by Amber Gunn | November 4, 2011

      Ten ideas to cut waste and balance the buget without raising taxes, including more efficient K-12 funding, spending high education tax dollars more wisely and rein in state employee salaries and benefits.

    • SOLUTIONS: Oregon

      Budget solution report offers 100 ideas

      The Taxpayer Foundation of Oregon | November 3, 2011

      In light of Oregon facing a budget crisis, the Taxpayer Foundation has issued a master list of budget balancing ideas that do not require raising taxes. These ideas have been collected from Oregon lawmakers, think tank groups, taxpayer organizations, unions, policy analysts, Democrats, Republicans and even ideas utilized in states across the nation.

    • SOLUTIONS: Colorado

      How to Save a Billion Dollars in Other Post-Employment Benefit Costs

      The Independence Institute | by Barry W. Poulson | October 31, 2011

      This study focuses on the retiree health plan administered by the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA). The PERA Health Care Program is a cost sharing multiple-employer plan. The “employers” in this context are the various governments that hire most public employees, such as public school teachers, fire fighters, police officers and state employees. Under this program, PERA subsidizes a portion of the premium for health care coverage, and the retiree pays any remaining amount of that premium. The Colorado legislature created the Health Care Trust Fund in 1999 to provide state subsidies to the Health Care Program.


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