State Retirement Systems and Pensions

At a retreat for state fiscal chairs, attendees discussed several key issues, including the workforce of the 21st century, legislative and other changes made to lower expenditures related to public pensions, and changes to the collective bargaining agreements currently in place with public-sector labor unions.  

Four years ago, Colorado appeared to have a stable public employee retirement system in place.

 “Then 2008 happened,” Colorado Senate President Brandon Shaffer said during a presentation at the CSG Fiscal Chairs meeting, which was held Thursday morning at Microsoft headquarters.

A Michigan law that reduced the pay of current state workers to offset the state’s retiree health care costs has been ruled unconstitutional.

State governments play an important role in national and regional economic conditions and are subject to prevailing economic conditions. The Census Bureau’s official statistics provide a full picture of the early impact of the most recent recession from tax revenues to expenditures to employment.

Yesterday, opponents of Ohio's recently-passed collective bargaining law marched through the streets of Columbus to deliver almost 1.3 million signatures, more than enough they say to put a repeal question on the November ballot.  

Soon after Rick Snyder introduced his first proposed budget as Michigan’s governor, lawmakers were being inundated with phone calls about one idea in particular: taxing the pension income of retirees.

State legislatures face mounting pressures to further reform public retirement plans to achieve sustainable, sufficient and competitive levels. A major legal challenge facing many states is their ability to change benefits for current employees. This article reviews both legal and pragmatic issues, and offers specific options, policies and strategies to guide legislative reforms.

The national conversation now underway whether Congress should enact preemptive authority for states to file for bankruptcy is treacherous because of its unintended consequences. The mere existence of a federal law allowing states to declare bankruptcy would only serve to increase interest rates, rattle investors, raise the costs of state government, create more volatility in financial markets, and erode state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This report summarizes the meeting of the Fiscal Affairs Roundtable at the 2010 CSG National Conference in Providence, Rhode Island.  Issues discussed include a fiscal outlook for 2011, unemployment insurance, public pensions, and federal financial reform.

e-Newsletter, Issue #51, July 22, 2010

Colorado expected its state retirement fund to go broke in 30 years. And that’s if the fund’s investments generated the expected 7 percent annual return.

The state made changes in 2004 and 2006 to the benefit structure for new hires, said Meredith Williams, chief executive of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement System. “We knew we had issues; we didn’t think we would fail,” he said.

That...

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