Labor and Employment

CSG South

On December 12, 2005, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) awarded The Council of State Governments’ (CSG) Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), a grant to determine pension portability among public health employees in the United States. RWJF focuses on the pressing health and healthcare issues facing the United States and is the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and healthcare of all Americans.

In order to meet the requirements of the grant, the SLC conducted a survey of the administrative entities managing the pensions of public health employees in all 50 states to determine their rules and regulations regarding pension portability for this category of public employee. Based on the responses to the survey questionnaire and additional research, the SLC researchers were able to ascertain whether the pension plan in a state permits an employee to purchase service credits for prior periods of qualified employment in another jurisdiction, both in another state and within the state; whether the pension plan is a defined benefit (DB) or defined compensation (DC) plan; the minimum amount of time required for an employee’s pension benefits to be fully vested; the existence of any recent legislative activity related to the portability of retirement plans of public health officials in each state; whether any federal tax laws impact on the pension portability of these public health employees; and the existence of pension portability in other public employment sector categories.

Based on the information gleaned from the survey responses and additional research, this report contains:
» Details on the current status of the different elements of our nation’s retirement infrastructure;
» Information on the public health employee landscape, including a snapshot of current and expected shortages and other workforce challenges facing this employment category;
» Analysis of the survey responses on pension portability from the 50 states;
» Federal tax implications relating to pension portability in the states;
» Information from other non-health, public sector categories on pension portability; and
» Issues for consideration by state policymakers that would help create an environment to retain and attract professionals to the public health sector.

CSG South

This presentation was given by Sujit CanagaRetna, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments, at the 2005 Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors annual meeting, on August 21, 2005 in Seattle, Washington.

CSG South

This presentation was given by Sujit M. CanagaRetna, Senior Fiscal Analyst at The Council of State Governments' Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference, as testimony before the Alaska House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee (via Conference Call), July 14, 2005.

This presentation was given by Sujit M. CanagaRetna of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), as testimony before a Joint Hearing of the Mississippi Senate & House Finance, Appropriations and Ways & Means Committees at the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi, April 27, 2005.

CSG South

Few other topics generate more spirited discourse and disagreement among policymakers than a discussion on devising a comprehensive retirement system to account for the huge number of “baby boomers” scheduled to retire in the next few years. The primary goal of this retirement system would be to sustain participants with adequate benefits for the duration of their retirement years. However, a spate of economic setbacks in the past few years, such as the sputtering stock market, rising deficits at the federal and state levels, rising fears over terror attacks, mounting corporate scandals affecting consumer confidence, dwindling corporate profits resulting in severe cutbacks and a jobless economic recovery, continues to cause stresses in the retirement plans of millions of Americans. Hence, it probably is not a stretch to maintain that an increasing number of Americans, particularly those nearing retirement age, remain extremely apprehensive about their retirement situation in the years ahead.

An aging workforce presents challenges for the future of pension plans, but measures to address any problems are already being devised and implemented. The question may not be so much whether future retirees will be adequately compensated, but rather, how policy-makers will shape the pension plans of tomorrow in order to maintain the relatively consistent quality of previous plans.

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