Links: State and Local Government Pensions and Retirement Internet Resources

July 2012

This document provides links to resources provided by other organizations on state pensions and retirement issues. The material listed here is organized under the following headings. Some material is included under more than one heading.


Also included are links to many state-specific studies from recent years, which constitute important contributions to the national debate on public retirement systems’ structures and funding.

Topics Listed
NCSL provides these links to sources for informational purposes only.  Listing documents and links here does not constitute endorsement of the information provided or of the positions taken by any other organization.

This document was compiled by Ron Snell with research assistance from Tamara Rivale in July 2012.
ACTUARIAL METHODS

California Research Bureau (California State Library).  Actuarially Speaking: A Plain Language Summary of Actuarial  Methods and Practices for Public Employee Pension and Other Post-Employment Benefits. April 2009.

ALTERNATIVES TO DEFINED BENEFIT PLANS

Biggs, Andrew. Public Sector Pensions in Nebraska: Are Cash-Balance Plans the Answer? Platte Institute Policy Study. (Omaha, Neb.: October 2011).

Crane, Roderick B., Michael Heller and Paul Yakoboski. Defined Contribution Pension Plans in the Public Sector: A Best Practice Benchmark Analysis. (New York: TIAA-CREF Institute, 2008).

California Public Employees’ Retirement System. The Impact of Closing the Defined Benefit Plan at CalPERS. March 2011.
This issue brief reviews the issues that would have to be considered and the impact of closing a defined benefit plan and replacing it with an alternative such as a defined contribution plan. Although it specifically discusses such issues in connection with CalPERS, its comments are broad enough to be a general discussion of the topic.

National Association of State Retirement Administrators. State Hybrid Retirement Plans: An Issue Brief. (November 2011).

National Institute of Retirement Security. Decisions, Decisions: Retirement Plan Choices for Public Employees and Employers. September 2011.
This paper looks at the behavior of employees who have the power to choose between a DB plan and a DC plan as their basic retirement plan. Includes statistics on choice in a number of states, and describes those states’ plans. It does not describe DC plans in states where there is no choice.

DESCRIPTIONS OF PLANS IN THE 50 STATES

Bureau of the Census. State & Local Public Retirement Systems.
The annual survey of State & Local Government Employee Retirement Systems provides revenues, expenditures, financial assets, and membership information for public employee retirement systems aggregated by states, and for each state, for the aggregate finances of state plans and local plans. The report no longer provides data on individual state or local government plans.

National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators, 2011 Survey of Defined Contribution Plans. March 2011.
This report describes various kinds of public sector defined contribution plans, including those that provide basic retirement coverage and those that are optional like 457 plans.

National Education Association, Characteristics of Large Public Education Pension Plans, 2010.
The 2010 edition builds on past studies by updating information in the areas of plan membership, assets, plan governance, plan design, Social Security coverage, retirement eligibility, vesting, purchase of service credit, cost-of-living adjustments, state taxation of benefits, employee and employer contribution rates, benefits formulas and limitations, actuarial methods, funding, and board membership. The report is limited to plans in which K-12 teachers are members. 

Wisconsin Legislative Council. 2010 Comparative Study of Major Public Employee Retirement System. (Madison, Wisconsin: December, 2011).
Like the NEA report described in the previous entry, this report compares significant features of major state and local public employee retirement systems in the United States. It includes all state-wide plans for public employees and teachers, but not the plans for employees such as police, firefighters, or elected officials if those are organized separately from general state employees’ plans.

FUNDAMENTALS OF PUBLIC RETIREMENT PLANS

The Employee Benefit Research Institute.  Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs.
Carol V. Calhoun, Cynthia L. Moore and Keith Brainard. Governmental Plans Answer Book, Second Edition. Walters Kluwer Law and Business: Austin and New York, 2007 with 2011 supplement. Order information

Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2007.
A summary update was released on July 11, 2012. The update says that “More information will be published in early fall, including March 2012 data for civilian, private industry, and state and local government workers on the incidence and provisions of health care benefits, retirement benefits, life insurance, short-term and long-term disability benefits, paid holidays and vacations, and other selected benefits.”

______. National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in State and Local Governments in the United States,2007.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey:  March 2011.
General retirement benefits page – all civilians, state & local, private sector tables.

FUNDING STATUS OF PUBLIC RETIREMENT PLANS

Bureau of the Census, Finances of Selected State and Local Government Employee Retirement Systems.
This is a quarterly survey that provides national summary data on the revenues, expenditures, and composition of assets of the largest state and local government employee retirement systems. This survey currently consists of a panel of 100 retirement systems, which comprise 89.4 percent of financial activity among such entities, based on the 2007 Census of Governments.

Center for State and Local Government Excellence. The Funding of State and Local Pensions: 2009-2013. April 2010.
Written by researchers at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
A report on state and local pension funding in 2009 with projections for 2010-2013 under alternative assumptions about stock market performance.

National Association of State Retirement Administrators. Public Fund Survey. (requires free registration).
This regularly-updated report provides information on approximately 100 large state and municipal public retirement plans in the United States. It reports information on assets, actuarial funding levels, actuarial assumptions, retirement provisions, eligibility requirements for benefits, contribution rates, post-retirement increase provisions and long-term disability provisions.

Pew Center on the States. Promises with a Price:  Public Sector Retirement Benefits. December 2007. 

______. The Trillion Dollar Gap. February  2010.
General state of public pension and retiree health program funding as of 2008. Website includes pages on individual states.

______. The Widening Gap: The Great Recession’s Impact on State Pension and Retiree Health Care Cost. April 2011.

______. The Widening Gap Update. June 2012.

Wilshire Consulting. 2012 Wilshire Report on State Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocation. March, 2012

LINKS TO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

Cato Institute
Cato provides occasional publications on state and local government compensation and retirement issues. In the past, it published extensively on the need to reform and at least partially privatize Social Security.

Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
Provides research on public retirement programs, Social Security issues, with particular attention to financial and funding issues.

Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE)
The Center’s work includes publications on a variety of public pension and public employee health program issues, usually undertaken with established researchers at academic institutions.

Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security
The coalition is dedicated to preventing a federal mandate that all state and local government employees be included in the Social Security system.

Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
EBRI provides an enormous range of data on public and private sector retirement plans in the United States from a nonpartisan perspective.

Heritage Foundation
Heritage provides numerous publications and reports on Social Security reform, but does not provide coverage of state retirement system issues.

National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA)
NASRA’s site includes links to documents on a wide range of retirement issues.

National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS)
NIRS provides research on a broad variety of public employee, public retirement and compensation issues, sometimes overtly in support of traditional pension plans.

Reason Foundation
Reason contends that state and local retirement plans must be converted from defined benefit to defined contribution plans for fiscal reasons.

U.S. Department of Commerce/Bureau of the Census/Division of Governments
The Census Bureau provides these two periodic reports on structural and financial statistics on state and local government employee retirement systems. Annual data are available online from 1993 and on. Quarterly data for the last five years are available online.
Annual: State & Local Government Employee Retirement Systems

U.S. Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau periodically publishes summarized information on public and private sector employee benefits drawn from the National Compensation Survey.

STATE STATUTORY PROVISIONS AND LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR BENEFICIARIES

List of enabling statutes for state retirement plans in the Public Fund Survey.
Sign in or request a password under “user login.”  Under the general heading “Systems,” click on “Systems and Enabling Statutes.”  That will bring up a list of systems in the survey and links to their enabling statutes.

National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems. State Constitutional Protections for Public Sector Retirement Benefits. (n.p., n.d.)

National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems. State Cases Addressing Public Sector Health Benefits.  (n.p., n.d.)

National Education Association. Issue Brief on Pension Protections in State Constitutions. (June, 2004).

Moore, Cynthia. Protecting Retirees’ Money, 6th edition. (Washington, D.C.: National Council on Teacher Retirement, 2011).  This report summarizes state constitutional and statutory provisions that protect retirement benefits. It includes summaries of significant judicial decisions. Order Information

STATE STUDIES AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

California. Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission. Final Report. Funding Pensions & Retiree Health Care for Public Employees.  January 2008.

Little Hoover Commission. Public Pensions for Retirement Security. February 2011.

Colorado. Buck Consultants. Study of Retirement Plan Designs for the State of Colorado…. November 20, 2001.

Connecticut. Richard Woodbury. Population Aging and State Pensions in New England. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston,  New England Public Policy Report 10-1. June 2010.

Florida.  Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.  Compared to Other States, the Pension Plan Is Better Funded, Incurs Lower Investment Fees, and Has Fewer Trustees; Investment Returns Are Average.  February 2011. 

Georgia.  Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts Performance Audit Operations.  Teachers Retirement System of Georgia Re-Employed Retirees:  A Review of Incentives, Prevalence, and Cost.  March 2011.

Illinois. University of Illinois, Institute of Government and Public Affairs.  Public Pension Policy in Illinois: An Introduction to a Crucial Issue, 2011.

Kentucky. Contact NCSL for the actuarial analysis of a proposal to convert the Public Employee Retirement System from a DB plan to a DC plan.

Kansas. Public Employee Retirement System. Report to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Pensions, Investments and Benefits: KPERS Long-Term Funding Status, February 26, 2010
http://www.kpers.org/longtermfundingreporttojointcommittee.htm

Kansas. Public Employee Retirement System. Fiscal Impact Report: Senate Substitute for HB 2194 and House Substitute for HB 2333. Conference Committee on Senate Substitute for HB 2194. April 25, 2011. Appendix D includes a study of the impact of replacing existing state retirement plans with a defined contribution plan.

Kansas. Barry Poulsen and Arthur P. Hall. The Funding Crisis in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. Center for Applied Economics, The University of Kansas School of Business. September 2009.

Louisiana.  Louisiana Office of the Legislative Auditor. Select Louisiana Retirement Systems, Investment Processes.  May 2012.

Maine.  Maine Public Employees Retirement System. Report on Pension Costs to the Legislature of the State of Maine. April 15, 2011.

Maine. Maine Unified Retirement Plan Task Force Study and Report. March 2010.

Maine. Richard Woodbury. Population Aging and State Pensions in New England. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston,  New England Public Policy Report 10-1. June 2010.

Maine. Working Group established by the 125th Legislature. New Pension Plan Design and Implementation Plan. March, 2012.

Massachusetts. Report of the Special Commission to Study the Massachusetts Contributory Retirement System. September 2009.

Massachusetts. Richard Woodbury. Population Aging and State Pensions in New England. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston,  New England Public Policy Report 10-1. June 2010.

Minnesota. Retirement  Systems  of Minnesota.  Adequacy of Public Pensions.  November 2008.

Minnesota. Minnesota Statewide Retirement  Systems. Retirement Plan Design Study. June 1, 2011.  The study includes an actuarial evaluation of the costs of shifting from a DB plan to a DC plan.

Nebraska. Buck Consultants. Benefit Review Study of the Nebraska Retirement Systems. August 2000

Nevada. The Segal Group, Inc. Public Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Nevada: Analysis and Comparison of Defined Benefits and Defined Contribution Retirement Plans. December 2010.

New Hampshire. Richard Woodbury. Population Aging and State Pensions in New England. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston,  New England Public Policy Report 10-1. June 2010.

North Carolina. North Carolina Future of Retirement Study Commission. Final Report to Boards of Trustees of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System and the Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System. November 2010.

North Carolina. North Carolina General Assembly, Program Evaluation Division. Compared to Other States’ Retirement Plans, TSERS is Well Funded and Its Plan Features Are Typical or Less Generous. Report Number 2011-05. September 2011

North Dakota. Actuarial study of proposed DC plan for teachers. Contact NCSL for a copy of the comparable actuarial study of a proposed DC plan for other public employees in North Dakota.

Rhode Island. Senate Fiscal Office Report.  Senate Municipal Pensions Study Commission Final Report. February 2011.

Rhode Island. Richard Woodbury. Population Aging and State Pensions in New England. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston,  New England Public Policy Report 10-1. June 2010.

Rhode Island. Office of the State Treasurer. Truth in Numbers: The Security and Sustainability of Rhode Island’s Retirement System. May, 2011

Texas. Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. Staff Report: State Pension Review Board. July 2012.
This report discusses the role a state pension oversight commission can play in identifying fiscal or other issues that may arise in local governments’ retirement plans.

Utah.  Cheiron.  Audit of Long-Term Actuarial Projections Relating to State Retirement System: The Utah Legislature. October 2010.

Vermont.  Report of the Commission on the Design and Funding of Retirement and Retiree Health Benefits Plans for State Employees and Teachers: Recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly.  December 2009

Virginia. Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. Review of Retirement Benefits for State and Local Government Employees. Report to the Governor and the General Assembly of Virginia. December 2011.

West Virginia.  PlanSponsor Magazine. State Plan Sponsor of the Year: A Lesson in Funding. December 2009. Description of the creation and termination of the West Virginia defined contribution plan for teachers.

Wisconsin.  State of Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds.  Study of the Wisconsin Retirement System.  June 2012.

STATISTICS AND DIRECTORIES OF STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT RETIREMENT PLANS

Bureau of the Census, Finances of Selected State and Local Government Employee Retirement Systems.
This is a quarterly survey that provides national summary data on the revenues, expenditures, and composition of assets of the largest state and local government employee retirement systems. This survey currently consists of a panel of 100 retirement systems, which comprise 89.4 percent of financial activity among such entities, based on the 2007 Census of Governments.

National Compensation Survey:  Employee Compensation in the United States, March 2009

Employee Benefits Legal Resource Site.
Links to major state and local public retirement plans websites, organized by state.

Wisconsin Legislative Council. 2008 Comparative Study of Major Public Employee Retirement Systems.
This report provides information similar to that in the National Education Association report listed previously for 85 statewide plans for public employees and for teachers. It includes at least one plan for each state. It is not as detailed as the NEA report in some topic areas, but provides information on plans for general public employees for all 50 states.