Public Employee Pension Transparency Act gains support

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Public Employee Pension Transparency Act gains support
by Blair Latoff
By U.S. Chamber,

The U.S. Chamber expressed its support for the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act introduced by Representatives Devin Nunes (R-CA), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Lamar Smith (R-TX). 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. At a press conference with members of Congress today, Randy Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits said, “The unfunded liabilities of state and local government pension plans has reached crisis proportions with no solution in sight. 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.

“It’s time for policymakers to come to grips with this grim reality and understand the problems ahead. 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.”

Last 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.

To bring attention to this issue, the Chamber held an event on July 30, 2010, entitled On the Funding Edge: What Public Benefit Plans can Learn from Private Employers,and will be holding a similar event this year.