Media Coverage

Retirement: Public Pensions Get an Overhaul

02/21/2012 - In the words of some politicians and pundits, public-pension reform isn't a liberal or conservative issue -- it's a reality issue. The money's just not there to fund the kind of retirement that state workers have come to expect. Reality checks led to a record number of pension-plan changes in 41 states in 2010 and 2011, as lawmakers tried to patch the cracks in the public nest egg. Expect more (and more-aggressive) moves to come.

Overall, state and local pensions are about 77 percent funded -- meaning that the value of plan assets is enough to cover 77 percent of promised benefits. But there is wide variation among plans. Illinois's plans, for instance, are a little less than 50 percent funded. The plans in Connecticut, Kentucky and Louisiana are under 60 percent. And some plans administered by cash-strapped cities and localities are in dire straits. "Even the worst-funded states aren't in immediate danger of not being able to make pension payments," says David Draine, a senior researcher at the Pew Center on the States.

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States' Fiscal Health

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