Pension reformers launch new initiativeNews added by Benefits Pro on January 28, 2016

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Marlene Y. Satter

A group of individuals known, among other professional achievements, for their involvement in pension reform activities has launched a new organization “focused on helping state and local governments meet their pension obligations and avoid insolvency.”

The Retirement Security Initiative is billed as a national bipartisan advocacy organization, and numbers among its leaders Dan Liljenquist, former state senator from Utah; Richard Ravitch, former lieutenant governor of New York; Chuck Reed, former mayor of San Jose; Lois Scott, former chief financial officer of Chicago; and Jim Spiotto, managing director at Chapman Strategic Advisors and financial restructuring expert.

Aggregate 50-state liabilities stand at $1.3 trillion, according to Moody’s Investors Service, and several states are having difficulty in meeting their obligations.

Consulting firm Milliman, Inc. pointed out late last year that for the first time, the largest U.S. pension plans have seen the numbers of retired and inactive plan members outpace those of active employees who are still earning benefits.

Among those states struggling to keep up is New Jersey, which recently made headlines for having the lowest contribution to pension funding in the country, under Governor Chris Christie.

According to Moody’s, the governor contributed just 18.6 percent of the required funding for fiscal year 2014, skipped millions in 2015 contributions and reduced the planned contribution for 2016. The state currently has the second-worst credit rating among the 50, with just Illinois coming in lower.

RSI said that it seeks to provide “expertise and resources to organize and support policy development and advocacy efforts at the federal, state and local levels” as state and local governments seek to meet their obligations without compromising public services.

Liljenquist championed Utah pension reforms during his tenure in the state senate; Reed pushed through pension reforms in San Jose that were approved by voters in 2012.

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