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Chamber pushes for Public Employee Pension Transparency Act

December 5, 2010

U.S. Chamber Expresses Support for Public Employee Pension Transparency Act
Legislation Will Ensure Transparency of Underfunded State Pension Plans
By U.S. Chamber of Commerce

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today expressed its support for the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act introduced by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA). The Act would require that state and local government pension plans report to the Secretary of the Treasury the funded status of those plans, and that the information be made publicly available via a searchable website.

“The unfunded liabilities of state and local government pension plans has reached crisis proportions with no solution in sight,” said Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits for the U.S. Chamber. “Unfortunately, the one solution governments may turn to as a source of funding is further taxation on private sector employers and workers. Further, it is hardly fair that the private sector is held to stringent funding requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which can adversely affect wages and benefits for workers as funding shortages are addressed, while the public sector often remains free to promise increasing levels of benefits without properly funding those benefits for the future.”

Earlier this year, The Pew Center on the States issued a report declaring that state pension plans are underfunded by $1 trillion in the aggregate. In 2008 only four states had fully-funded pension systems – down from over one-half of all states in 2000.

“It’s time for policymakers to come to grips with this grim reality and understand the problems ahead,” continued Johnson. “This legislation will at least require that we have an accurate accounting of the degree of underfunding so that meaningful solutions can be explored, whether at the state or local levels.”

To bring attention to this issue, the U.S. Chamber held an event on July 30, 2010, entitled On the Funding Edge: What Public Benefit Plans can Learn from Private Employers, in which panelists delved into these exact issues. In follow-up, the Chamber will be holding a similar event, hopefully with union participation, in the near future.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

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