Chamber wants states to cut back on pensions

Pensions file

UPDATE: The transcript is posted with corrections.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today will hold a conference on under-funded state pension and health benefit plans. At the summit, the Chamber says states should do what a lot of private companies do: cut contributions to retirement plans during lean times. Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer explains.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: Pension plans for state and local government workers are at least a trillion dollars in the red. That's according to the Pew Center on the States. Generous retirement plans were offered to employees who didn't have to pay in. Governments were responsible for pension payments, but they did put enough money in. To make matter worse -- fund investments tanked during the financial crisis. What to do now? Aliya Wong of the Chamber of Commerce says future state workers will have to share the burden.

Aliya Wong: There will be more cost sharing, which will mean if you want a richer benefit you will have to make more of a contribution from your own paycheck.

Joshua Rauh teaches finance at Northwestern University:

Joshua Rauh: We will run into a Greece-style debt crisis in states like Illinois and New Jersey, where basically the state ceases to function.

Some states have gotten the message. Pew says 15 states have raised the retirement age for new workers, or curbed their benefits.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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