What Rhode Island can teach us about pension plunder
Source: Forward Kentucky

When you look at proposals and bills related to public pensions, there is one thing to keep in mind: we’re talking about an amazing amount of money. In just one fund, the Kentucky Retirement Systems fund, there are assets worth over $12 billion. ($12,250,960,799.44 to be specific.)

And just as Willie Sutton said he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is,” Wall Street firms love to help pension systems manage their money – because if you get the right deal on the right terms, there’s a lot of money to be made.

So, it pays to pay attention to what is happening with public pension systems – including changes to the boards. Shifting the balance of power on a pension board can make it easier for unscrupulous people to get their hands on all that money. And sometimes, they will make it look like they are actually trying to save the pensions. “What we’re doing is for your own good!” they will say, even as they pocket huge fees.

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Illinois lawmakers debate consolidating downstate pensions
Source: KPVI

SPRINGFIELD — For municipal officials, the idea of consolidating 650 downstate police and fire pensions into one will save money in the long run, provide better investment returns and provide more stability to weaker systems.

But representatives of the pension plans said consolidating them will cost money that could take up to 20 years to recover and that there are more pressing issues facing the systems, including Tier 2 benefits that are inadequate.

The goal of consolidating downstate police and fire pension funds has been on the radar of the Illinois Municipal League for several years. This year, it also got the attention of Gov. J.B. Pritzker who appointed a task force in February to look into the feasibility of consolidating local pensions “beginning with downstate police and fire funds.” The group is supposed to deliver recommendations by July 1.

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Video: Pensions on Main Street
Source: National Public Pension Coalition

By now, most people know that public pensions provide a secure and dignified retirement for America’s public employees. But did you know that they’re also powerful engines for local and state economies, as well as the national economy? We’ve created a new video to highlight the impact that pensions have on Main Streets across our country, including their indispensible value in recruiting and retaining qualified public safety officers

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Welcome Winnetka Fire Pension Fund to IPPFA
Source: IPPFA

Welcome Winnetka Fire Pension Fund to IPPFA.


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A “Pension Crisis” Mentality Won’t Help: Thinking Differently About Illinois’ Retirement Systems
Source: Government Finance Research Center

The near ubiquitous claim that Illinois is facing a “pension crisis” has rarely been challenged. The failure to examine this customary framing of the fiscal condition of Illinois’ five state pension systems limits how policymakers conceptualize their funding strategy. This white paper, jointly authored by researchers from the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the School of Labor and Employment Relations, the Government Finance Research Center and the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (all at the University of Illinois), argues that the “pension crisis” framework negatively influences discussions of policy options.

Our goal with this paper is to rethink the conversation about pensions and the state’s finances in several ways. First, we argue that the funded ratio and unfunded liabilities, conventional ways of assessing a pension system’s fiscal health, are inadequate metrics that reinforce short-term thinking. We argue that the focus should be on long-term trends and peer comparison. In addition, attention should be paid to identifying what the drivers are of negative trends and carefully assessing whether action is needed.

Second, we argue that a “pension crisis” is a situation in which the pension system is insolvent and unable to make benefit payments to current retirees. This is not the present scenario in Illinois. Nonetheless, we recognize that both the state and the pension systems face significant fiscal challenges. Third, rather than a singular problem, we contend that there are actually two, interrelated and in-conflict issues:

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