Author Archives: nhretirement

Another View — New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition: Retirement rhetoric v. facts

By THE NEW HAMPSHIRE RETIREMENT SECURITY COALITION 
October 26. 2018 12:34AM

UNION LEADER

LAST WEEK, Dave Solomon issued an editorial regarding the New Hampshire Retirement System and its current funded status. And while the article included a decent amount of fact-based information, its central thesis was lost.

A few issues were apparent from the onset. First, what is the purpose of comparing the Retirement System’s unfunded liability to the state budget?

Saying things like “the state comes up about $5 billion short” is an unnecessary and sensational soundbite.

The state doesn’t need $5 billion upfront, it is not falling short, it is not bankrupt.

Also, the state is only responsible for 25 percent of the retirement system’s cost, the other 75 percent comes from the cities and towns.

Even if you wanted to make the comparison of budget totals to the total cost of the UAAL, which we believe is fallible, you would have to include all of the other 470 budgets that contribute to the retirement system.

Second, what is the point of quoting a report that is downright wrong?

Pointing to a piece from a misinformed report that claims the state does not disclose its pension liabilities is ludicrous. Each year the New Hampshire Retirement System does a thorough job providing an update on the funded status of the system that includes its pension liabilities and the total cost of retirement.

We can only assume quoting this report was to garner unnecessary panic about the status of the retirement system and to continue to cry that it is bankrupt, when it clearly is not.

Third and most importantly, the article left out a lot of key pieces of information regarding retirement costs in New Hampshire. It’s become a little redundant when the only pieces written on retirement are focused on the unfunded liability.

While Solomon’s article did a good job in covering the information from the New Hampshire Retirement System that Public Information Officer Marty Karlon provided, the article still missed the opportunity to really explain what the UAAL is. Retirement issues are bulky, detailed, and they can often be confusing, but pulling only certain pieces from its intricate history and process is dangerous.

Another piece the article missed was that when the NHRS was put on a plan to pay down the UAAL, it was understood the UAAL would grow larger in the first half and begin to decrease in the second half of its payment plan.

Because it grew doesn’t mean the plan isn’t working, it doesn’t mean the retirement system is bankrupt, and it doesn’t mean providing retirement benefits to public employees is unaffordable.

It just means that to rectify the mistakes of the past, we must deal with the situation at hand and ride out the payment plan.

The UAAL is a fact, it exists for exactly the reasons that Marty Karlon was quoted discussing.

Decisions made 20 years ago created a shortage of funding. Yet, again and again, the fact that a plan has been put in place AND the fact that the plan is working doesn’t get much coverage.

It is important to point out that we saw that plan working just as it’s meant to be this year. Employers will see a decrease in their rates across 3 out of 4 employee groups over the next biennium.

Also, what the article failed to discuss was the actual costs of retirement benefits. The UAAL portion of the rate makes up 90 percent of what is being paid.

That means only 10 percent pays for the actual benefit.

Yes, the costs seems high right now, and yes, 20 years from now seems like a long time to wait to see rates drop significantly, but when it does, employees will be paying 90% of their own benefit.

This fact is also backed up by a report from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, which was hired by Gov. Sununu’s Decennial Commission on Retirement this year. The Center found New Hampshire to be one of the most affordable plans in the country, largely due to the fact that the state and communities pay very little toward the actual benefit. Their report showed that retirement benefits provided by the state of New Hampshire and its municipalities is half the cost of the national average.

So, while we are hopeful to see retirement issues covered in the news, it’s important to make sure that when it is discussed, it is discussed fully, honestly, and with facts, not salacious headlines and quotes from misrepresented reports.

Submitted by the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, whose partners are the unions, associations, and organizations that represent more than 78,000 active and retired public employees in New Hampshire.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We stand by our story.


$500 one-time Payment to Bring Relief to Certain Retirees

For Immediate Release

Contact: Casey McCabe, info@nhretirementsecuritycoalition.com

August 17, 2018

$500 one-time Payment to Bring Relief  to Certain Retirees

This week and next will bring some relief to certain retirees as the NH Retirement System announced on Wednesday they would begin issuing the $500 one-time payment as passed in HB1756 during the 2018 legislative session. These checks will be issued to retirees with at least 20 years of service, who have been retired for at least 5 years, and whose current benefit does not exceed $30,000.

The NH Retirement Security Coalition, with the help of bipartisan support in the House and the Senate led the fight for a cost of living increase for ALL retirees. It was a momentous occasion for the NH legislature to finally recognize, after 10-long years, that its retirees were well overdue for some type of cost of living adjustment. The bill in its original form would have provided this one-time payment to a larger population of retirees and would have also provided a compounded COLA of 1.5% for all retirees.

Through the legislative process, the bill as signed by Governor Sununu only provided this one-time payment to about 8,000 of the retired teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and state and municipal employees of New Hampshire. While it was a step in the right direction, many retirees were left out and will still see no relief from risings costs of living and health care.

The NH Retirement Security Coalition would like to thank the legislators from both sides of the aisle who supported this effort and we look forward to working with all those returning in 2019 to bring affordable, sustainable, and necessary relief to ALL retirees no matter their current retirement status or benefit level. Risings costs of living and health care effect all of the nearly 50,000 retirees within the NH Retirement System and the Coalition will use the next legislative session, as it always does, to advocate for every single retiree who dedicated their lives and careers to the great state of NH.

For more information directly from NHRS please visit: https://www.nhrs.org/read-more/

 

If you’re interested in speaking with a spokesperson from the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, please contact Casey McCabe at info@nhretirementsecuritycoalition.com

 

Members of the NH Retirement Security Coalition include:

American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 93

American Federation of Teachers – New Hampshire

National Education Association – New Hampshire

New Hampshire American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations

New Hampshire Police Association

New England Police Benevolent Association

New Hampshire Retired Educators Association

New Hampshire School Administrators Association

New Hampshire Higher Education Union – a division of IBEW Local 2320

New Hampshire Troopers Association

Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire

State Employees Association of New Hampshire – SEIU Local 1984

Teamsters Local 633

 

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The NH Retirement Security Coalition represents the 78,000 active and retired members of the NH Retirement System. Their mission is to protect the structure and solvency of New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS), and the public pensions that support thousands of retirees, small businesses, and middle-class families.

 

NH House Finance Committee Denies NH Retirees a Cost-of-Living Adjustment

For Immediate Release

Contact: Casey McCabe, info@nhretirementsecuritycoalition.com

February 21, 2018

 

NH House Finance Committee Denies NH Retirees a Cost-of-Living Adjustment

Concord – Today the NH House Finance Committee voted 14 to 10 to kill HB1756-FN, a bill that would provide a long overdue COLA to the 28,000 currently retired public employees. Several Republican members of the committee provided reasons for this decision that were based on misunderstandings of the NH Retirement System, false realities, and unfounded claims that the State has no responsibility for all public employees.

“We are incredibly disappointed in today’s vote. For decades, the NH Legislature recognized its responsibility to its state and municipal retirees,” explained William McQuillen, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire and Chairman of the NH Retirement Security Coalition. McQuillen when on to explain, “Until eight years ago, the legislature always put aside party politics to honor the dedication and hard work our retirees had given to the state. It is inexcusable for this House Finance Committee to set aside its responsibilities, yet again, when our retirees always held up their end of the bargain.”

The last time NH retirees received an automatic COLA was 2010.  There will not be another COLA granted to retirees until the NH legislature does something about it. Rich Gulla President of SEIU Local 1984 reiterated this point, “Our retirees have gone eight long years without a COLA. When began their careers there was an understanding their hard work would be recognized in their retirement. The 14 members of the House Finance Committee who voted against HB1756-FN turned their backs on NH’s retirees today and that is shameful.”

HB1756-FN will head to the full NH House in the upcoming weeks. There is still time for the NH Legislature to do the right thing and stand up and stand with the 28,000 retired state and municipal members.

If you’re interested in speaking with a spokesperson from the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, please contact Casey McCabe at info@nhretirementsecuritycoalition.com

NH Legislature expected to pass bill curbing ‘double dipping’

CONCORD — A bill that seeks to limit the income of “double dipper” public pensioners is recommended by lawmakers as “ought to pass,” according to the New Hampshire Retirement System, the pension pool for police, fire, school and other public employees.

In a Wednesday memo, the NHRS announced House Bill 561 was amended in the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee and, if passed as expected, will limit the number of hours pensioners can work at post-retirement jobs for employers in the public retirement system. The bill seeks to reduce the current 32-hour weekly limit of hours worked by pensioners at other public jobs, to 1,040 hours a year. That would mean a reduction of 624 hours a year and anyone found to have exceeded the limit would lose the employer-funded portion of their pension for a year, according to the proposed law.

The bill, as currently written, also states public retirees would have to wait 60 days from when they retire to the day they start working a subsequent public job. If passed by the Senate, the bill will be sent to the House and the NHRS has advised its members the legislation is recommended likely to pass.

The limits are based on the recommendation of the Decennial Retirement Commission, which was formed by law to “ensure the long-term viability of the retirement system” that has a $5 billion unfunded liability. The liability is the difference between promised pensions and funds in the retirement program. When public pensioners work post-retirement jobs, they’re no longer contributing to the retirement system, from which their pensions are drawn.

NHRS Executive Director George Lagos announced in October 2016 that 70 percent of the state’s public employers have a public retiree on the payroll so he was bringing the topic of double dipping to the DRC. He also raised the question about whether some jobs being performed by public pensioners can be accomplished in 32 hours a week.

“Common sense tells us that there is some doubt about whether or not certain managerial positions now categorized as part-time are truly capable of being accomplished within a 32-hour week, and whether those who are engaged in those positions are recording their time accurately and truly limiting themselves to no more than 32 hours,” he wrote.

In March, the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition – comprised of police, fire, teachers and other public employees unions – endorsed efforts to curb double-dipping. In a press statement, the union said double-dipping pensioners are “gaming” the NHRS.

“It’s fiscally responsible for both the system and employers,” said Portsmouth Fire Capt. Bill McQuillen, president of the NHRSC and the statewide firefighters’ union, about the proposed pension reform.

He said firefighters hear time and again at bargaining tables that the costs to employ firefighters gets more costly due to pension costs. “This is an opportunity to address that,” he said.

The proposed law is expected to be reviewed by the Legislature in January and, if passed, would have an effective date of January 2019.