We are entering into the final few weeks of session, as we continue to watch several bills that could impact LAGERS. Back in January, I wrote about three bills in particular: House Bill 1329, House Bill 2044, and Senate Bill 628. All three of these bills contain language that would allow for Metro Planning Organizations and Soil and Water Conservation Districts to seek membership in the LAGERS system.
About a year ago, I had a conversation with some of my friends about what I do for a living. When I told them I work for a public pension plan, their reaction was not quite what I expected. They began telling me pension plans are old fashioned and the best type of retirement plan was the 401(k). They all work in private industry and are seeing fewer private employers provide pension plans. So, their assumption is, of course, the 401(k) is better.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Missouri Municipal League’s Partner in Governance Conference. This event is a one-day gathering of the minds, with partners from the Missouri Municipal League, the Institute of Public Policy at the University of Missouri, the Missouri Association of Counties, the Missouri School Boards' Association and FOCUS-St. Louis, in which local leaders discuss various challenges and best practices in local government. While the entire day was outstanding (and I’d highly recommend you attend next year), there were a few highlights for me that I think are particularly noteworthy.
When I started working at LAGERS several years ago, I didn't get it. I didn't understand just how valuable the services local government workers provide are to my every day life. Now, 8 years later, I have an entirely different perspective. I now know when a park is clean, it didn't magically clean itself. Instead, there are people, like Joe Schulte (video below), who work hard for my local community to make our parks clean and safe.
Flexibility may not be a word you often hear associated with public pension plans. These plans are typically created by state or local policymakers, and changes to the plan structure are sometimes difficult and time-consuming. This is OK for many public pension plans because they cover workers with similar characteristics. It is common, for example, for all teachers covered by a pension plan to have the same retirement benefits regardless of the school district that employs them. All employees have the same benefits; the school districts and employees share in the cost of benefits; and all pay the same amount for those benefits.
I could say this is the time of year when all of us at LAGERS turn our attention to Local Government, but that would be a lie. Our attention is ALWAYS on local government, in particular local government employees, and how they make our communities better.
Let’s think about these two words for a moment…”covet” (to yearn to possess or have something) vs. “begrudge” (to envy or resent the good fortune of someone, to be unhappy or upset because someone has something you think they do not deserve).
Since the Great Recession in 2008, warnings of an impending pension crisis have been splashed across the business pages of newspapers across the country. Despite these boisterous decrees, America’s public pension funds are stable. We explore the roots behind the false pension crisis narrative and examine the facts.