Reporting on Pensions: 2010-2011 state legislation


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Reporting on Pensions: 2010-2011 state legislation

  1. 1. State Pension Legislation 2010 -2011 December 2011 Ron Snell National Conference of State Legislatures
  2. 2. My Assignment1. Overview of the pension and benefit changes states have undertaken to reduce costs;2. Options available for altering the benefits of current employees and retirees; and3. Actions states should consider or reject when contemplating changes in pension benefits.
  3. 3. The Issue In 2009, according to the Pew Center on the States, state unfunded liabilities for retirement plans were $660 billion. That is the value of all commitments for which systems lack funding, valued according to the systems assumptions on future investment returns. Less optimistic assumptions make the unfunded liability several times that amount.
  4. 4. Major Pensions Legislation in 2010-2011: All Topics41 States Represented30 states acted in 2011.
  5. 5. Increases in Employee Contributions, 2010 and 201125 states represented Future Members Only (6 states) At Least Some Current Members (19 states)
  6. 6. Offsets to Increases in Employee Contributions, 2011 Offset With Lower Employer Contributions (10) No Offset (7)
  7. 7. Higher Age and Service Requirements for Normal Retirement, for New Members, 2010 and 2011 4 426 States Represented
  8. 8. Reduced Post-Retirement Benefit Increases Enacted in 2010 and 201118 StatesRepresented Future hires only (6 states) At least some active employees (5) People already retired and active employees (7)
  9. 9. Additional State Issues in 2010 and 2011 Longer vesting period for new members -- 13 states. Longer period for calculating final average compensation (meaning a lower base for a pension in most cases) --15 states. Reduced benefit for early retirement -- 17 states. For current employees in 5 states. Greater restrictions on retirees return to covered service -- all retirees -- 12 states.
  10. 10. Trends in Pensions Policy in 2010 and 2011 A trend to revise, not replace, traditional DB plans. In 2010, Utah closed its DB plan for all state and local employees. As of July 1, 2011, Utah offers new employees the choice of a defined contribution plan or a combined plan that includes a DB plan and a mandatory 401(k). As of July 1, 2010, Michigan replaced its School Employees DB plan with a combined plan. Indiana created a voluntary alternative DC plan in 2011.
  11. 11. Trends in Pensions Policy in 2010 and 2011 Rhode Island in 2011 replaced its defined benefit plan with a hybrid plan that, beginning in early 2012, will include all current plan members except public safety members. This is the first instance in the 50 states of including active members of a plan in a basic plan redesign.
  12. 12. Trends in DB Plans in 2010 and 2011 States are shifting more of the eventual cost of retirement to members.  Higher contributions;  Longer service requirements;  Higher ages for normal retirement; and  Lower post-retirement benefit adjustments. More restrictions on retirement before normal age and on retired people returning to covered service (often called "double-dipping).
  13. 13. Contribution Requirements in 2011 Most states that increased employee contribution requirements in 2011 offset them with lower employer contributions, at least temporarily. This is a trend toward equalizing the employer and employee contribution rates. Also helps balance to highly-stressed state budgets (and local government budgets in some cases). An employee dollar is not worth as much as an employer dollar, and the practices does not leave pension funds harmless.
  14. 14. Sources and Contact Information This report is based on NCSLs annual reports on state pensions and retirement legislation and The Widening Gap (Pew Center on the States, 2011). This report includes enactments through November 2011. The 2010 NCSL legislative report is available at The 2011 legislative report through September 30 is available at For further information: Ron Snell -- 303-856-1534