Federal Government Relations

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, December 12, 2017
Article: NCTR UBIT Letter to Tax Reform Conferees

Article: RAND/Arnold Foundation Teacher Pension Conference Preliminary Agenda

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, November 14, 2017
Public Plans Mount Effort Against UBIT

Joint letter from NCTR and NCPERS to Actuarial Standards Board Pension Committee.

September 28, 2017.  On behalf of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) and the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS), representing the majority of state and local government retirement system participants, we are writing to express our serious concerns with certain proposed changes to the Actuarial Standards of Practice (ASOPs) governing actuarial services for pension plans proposed by the Pension Task Force (PTF) of the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB).  We understand that, pursuant to a subsequent directive from the ASB, you are in the process of drafting appropriate proposed modifications that would reflect these recommendations.  Read more…

NCTR Members-Only Federal Webinar!

Financial Economics and the Management of Public Pension Plans: Part II

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Recording & Slides available   

NCTR Members-Only Federal Webinar!

NCTR fwebinar iconFinancial Economics and the Management of Public Pension Plans: The Real Story

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Recording & Slides available

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, August 29, 2017
New Survey Linked to David Sirota

Article:  Updated Graphic on Arnold Foundation Documents Over $53.6 Million Spent on Pension Politics

Healthcare Reform:  Public Pension Involvement

Article:  Pension Reform Passes in Pennsylvania

Article:  Public Sector Actuaries Respond to Proponents of the Application of Financial Economics to Public Pensions

Article:  New Tools for Your “Pro-DB/Anti-DC” Tool Kit

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, January 24, 2017

Article:  Anti-DB Agendas at State Level Advance, Often Funded by Arnold Money

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, January 10, 2017
Article:  NCTR Joins National Public Sector Organizations in Urging Retention of Muni Bond Tax Exemption

The Financial Literacy Seminar Series Steering Committee,
George Washington University School of Business

A letter from NCTR Executive Director Meredith Williams

November 22, 2016.  I am writing to you on behalf of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) …

I am writing to express our extreme disappointment and concern with the intentions of the Financial Literacy Seminar Series to feature a presentation by Professor Joshua Rauh of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, entitled “Hidden Debt, Hidden Deficits: How Pension Promises are Consuming State and Local Budgets,” to be held on Thursday, December 1, 2016. Read more.

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, November 1, 2016
Article:  Once More, with Feeling!  The Inside Scoop on How Pennsylvania’s Latest Pension “Reform” Effort was Defeated

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, September 27, 2016
Article:  Heads Up!  Small Social Security COLA for 2017 Could Produce Big Increase in Medicare Part B Premiums for Many Public Employees

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, September 6, 2016
Article:  Changing Return Assumptions—Part Two 

Article:  The State Pension Landscape

Article:  The Value of Long-Term Investors

Article:  No PEPTA in Latest House Version of Puerto Rico Assistance Package

Article:  Cybersecurity Is No Longer Solely an IT Department  Responsibility:  CalSTRS GC Discusses Trustees’ Role in Cybersecurity Oversight

Article:  PEPTA Update

Article:  NCTR, 17 Other National Groups Urge House Members
NOT to Support New Version of PEPTA

Article:  Hatch Provides New Reason for Concern:
Taxation of Pension Plan Dividend Earnings

Article:  Nunes Seeking Cosponsors for PEPTA;
Still Relying on “Experts” Like Joshua Rauh

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, January 19, 2016

Article:  Pew’s Pension Project:  An Update

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, January 5, 2016

Article: NPPC Provides Final Status of State Pension Issues for 2015

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, December 15, 2015

Article: Public Pensions in the Crosshairs:  PEPTA, Hatch Annuities Proposal Included in GOP Puerto Rico Assistance Bill

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, November 24, 2015
NCTR Responds to Bloomberg “Puff Piece” on John Arnold

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, November 17, 2015
Article: NCTR Files Amicus Brief Before U.S. Supreme Court to “Set the Record Straight” on Public Pensions

REFERENCED IN: NCTR FYI, October 27, 2015
Article:  NCTR, Other National Organizations Implore President, Congress to Block Medicare Part B Premium Hike

REFERENCED IN:  NCTR FYI, September 15, 2015
Article:  Public Sector Reps Meet on ACA Excise Tax

REFERENCED IN:  NCTR FYI, September 1, 2015
Article: NIRS Asks NCSL to “Set the Record Straight” Regarding Josh McGee’s Claims of DC Plan Comparability to DB Model’s Efficiencies

  • Text of email, sent by Dr. Adrian Moore, VP, Reason Foundation, to state legislators, governors’ offices, and other state leaders.  Subject line: “Better retirement plans for government workers”

National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG):
A letter from NCTR Executive Director Meredith Williams

July 21, 2015.  I am writing to you on behalf of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) …

I wanted to bring a matter to your attention involving state Attorneys General (AGs) with which NCTR is deeply concerned.  Specifically, I am referring to a “Symposium on the Economics and Law of Public Pension Reform” being hosted by the Mason Attorneys General Education Program, which is affiliated with the Law and Economics Center of Virginia’s George Mason University School of Law.  I understand that AGs and staff from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories are being invited to attend.  Read more.

EXCERPT:  NCTR FYI, July 14, 2015
Colorado State Auditor: COPERA More Efficient, Less Expensive than All Alternative Models

On July 13, 2015, the Colorado State Auditor’s Office released a report finding that the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (COPERA) retirement plan design “is more efficient and uses dollars more effectively than the other types of plans in use today,” providing “a higher level of benefits at the current cost than all alternative plans.”

 The report’s purpose was to compare the cost and effectiveness of the COPERA plan design to alternative plan designs in the public and private sector.  It was commissioned by the State Auditor’s Office and conducted by the independent actuarial firm, Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company (GRS), and was authorized during Colorado’s 2014 Legislative Session by a unanimous vote of the Colorado General Assembly.  Read more.

Input on ASB Hearing on Public Pension Issues:
Draft of joint letter from NCTR/NASRA/NCPERS

June 12, 2015.  We appreciate the opportunity to provide you with feedback regarding actuarial standards of practice and public pension issues. Following is our input in response to your request.

In general, we believe that current Actuarial Standards of Practice (ASOPs) pertaining to pensions are working well in providing guidance for actuaries to assist their clients in establishing pension funding policies. ASOPs permit a range of practices so as to accommodate a wide variety of circumstances that are or may become present among state and local government pension plans.

We also believe that ASOPs should not be developed or modified to specifically address public pension and other public sector issues. ASOPs traditionally have provided broad guidance to the entire actuarial profession, and we recommend that they continue to do so. Actuarial practices and principles should transcend specific segments of clients and function as an umbrella that encompasses the entire actuarial profession.  Read more.

Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee:
A letter from NCTR Executive Director Meredith Williams

June 1, 2015.  I am writing to you on behalf of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) in connection with your June 4, 2015, hearing on retirement security from a national perspective.  Read more.

Pennsylvania House State Government Committee:
A letter from NCTR Executive Director Meredith Williams

May 28, 2015.  I am writing to you on behalf of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) in connection with your June 4, 2015, hearing on Senate Bill 1, proposed legislation that I understand would establish a defined contribution retirement benefit plan applicable to all newly-hired Pennsylvania public employees as well as add a cash balance retirement benefit tier to the existing defined benefit structure.  Read more.

A letter to Senator Orrin Hatch
from NCTR Executive Director Meredith Williams

April 28, 2015.  On behalf of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) and the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS), representing the majority of state and local government retirement system participants, we congratulate you on your chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee.  We look forward to working with you in the new Congress on issues related to one of the most important challenges that the nation faces:  the retirement security of the American people, whether publically or privately employed.

In this regard, we want to assure you that the state of public pensions is strong, and growing stronger every day.  For example, according to the recent “Wilshire 2015 Report on State Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocation,” the funding ratio for the 131 state-sponsored defined benefit retirement systems covered in its study was 80 percent in 2014, up from 74 percent in 2013.  Read more.

EXCERPT:  NCTR FYI, April 21, 2015

John Arnold:  No Laughing Matter?

Saul Alinsky, often referred to as the founder of modern community organizing, wrote that “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) apparently agrees, and has used this tool very effectively in a recent cartoon video that skewers hedge fund billionaire John Arnold, the former Enron trader and co-founder of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and his efforts to do away with defined benefit public pensions.  Read more

Participation of Charter Schools in Governmental Plans

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NCTR fwebinar icon

February 19, 2015.  In January of this year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2015-07, announcing that they are considering issuing proposed regulations regarding whether a state or a local retirement system that covers employees of a public charter school is a governmental plan within the meaning of Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 414(d), and seeking public comment.

Moody’s Responds to NCTR Criticism of Pension Report

Timothy Blake, Managing Director of Moody’s Public Finance Group, has responded to a recent letter from NCTR and seven other national organizations representing public pension plans and their participants that was strongly critical of a recent report from Moody’s entitled “US State and Local Government Pensions Lose Ground Despite Meeting Return Targets.”  In his December 8, 2014, response, Blake stands by the Moody’s report and its criticism, but says that Moody’s would be happy to discuss the matter further “if it would be helpful.”  Read more

Group Letter to Moody’s: Report Dangerously Misleading

On behalf of the national organizations listed above, I am writing to express our extreme disappointment with the recent Moody’s report, “US State and Local Government Pensions Lose Ground Despite Meeting Return Targets.” We believe that this report is inaccurate and dangerously misleading in its depiction of the actual financial condition of state and local government retirement systems, and does nothing to improve transparency in the reporting of public pension plan liabilities and the funding requirements for governmental retirement systems.  Read more

GOP Takes Senate; Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank Act Likely to Be Targets

Republicans will take over the Senate in 2015 after a dominating Election Day for the GOP, which could lead to some changes for the 2010 laws that reformed health care and financial regulations, but almost certainly will not mean repeal of either one.  Read more

Statement of the American Council of Life Insurers Opposing Government-Purchased Life Insurance Legislation

For the reasons explained below, the ACLI opposes legislation that enables a government or public retirement plan the ability to purchase life insurance on the lives of government employees, retirees or public retirement plan participants for which the entity would participate directly or indirectly in the economic benefit of a death. Read more

NCTR Joins Letter to Corporations Urging Increased Gender Diversity on Boards of Directors

The National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) has joined with asset managers, institutional investors, senior business executives, statewide elected officials, and national women’s organizations in writing to companies within the Russell 1000 Index that do not have any women on their boards of directors, urging them to embrace gender diversity by including female representation on their boards. Read more

Deputy Assistant Secretary Grippo and Director Hiteshew Email

The member associations of our Public Pension Network would like to thank you for taking the time to meet with us to discuss Treasury’s new office of State and Local Finance, and to share with us some information regarding its broader mission, insights, and potential future work plan. We hope the meeting was informative, and we encourage a continued dialogue between your office and our associations. In addition, we would like to offer the expertise of our members as your office moves forward with its work in the pension arena. These individuals have different professional backgrounds and perspectives and can provide well-informed, balanced insights and information. Read more

Federal Webinar Presentations Available!

Tuesday, May 6; 3pm-4pm (ET)
GASB Statement 68 and Public Employers

GASB Statement 68 and Public Employers

GASB Statement No. 68, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions, is set to take effect for state and local governmental plan sponsors’ fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2014. Among other things, plan sponsors will be required to report their net pension liability (the difference between the total pension liability and the market value of assets as of the measurement date) on the employer’s balance sheet, as well as calculate a new “pension expense.”

Despite GASB’s recent decision that a delay in the implementation date of Statement 68 was unnecessary, the impending application of its requirements is still seen as very problematic for many.  Key concerns include (1) accounting and auditing issues for employers that participate in cost-sharing plans; (2) balance sheet disclosures related to “special funding situations” in which an entity does not employ the members of the plan, but is required to make contributions to the plan under specific circumstances; and (3) public relations issues involving what will likely be a very material new number on employer balance sheets.

Treasury Department Creates New Office of State and Local Finance; Public Pension Fund Liabilities will be Included in Focus

The Treasury Department has confirmed that it is creating a new “Office of State and Local Finance” that will broadly monitor the municipal bond market, according to press reports. A Treasury spokesperson is quoted as saying that “”The office will serve as Treasury’s liaison to state and municipal officials and associations, monitor developments in municipal bond markets, support policies to improve the management of public pensions and other liabilities, and develop potential federal policy responses to issues that emerge in municipal financing markets.” Read more

NCTR FYI from October 7, 2014

Arnold Foundation to Launch Major National Communications Campaign Targeting Public Pensions

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has issued a “Request for Proposal” seeking a public affairs or communications firm to support the Arnold Foundation’s “pension system reform efforts.”  The RFP was issued September 19, 2014, and responses were due by October 3, 2014.  Read more 

Arnold Foundation RFP:  “Market Research and Analysis of Public Pension Reform and Execution of National Communications Campaign”