A SAFE Way Out of State and Local Pension Woes?

Conference
October 1, 2013 2:00PM
Policy Center with Foyer
Featuring Preston Rutledge, Tax and Benefits Counsel, Senate Committee on Finance; Robert Clark, Zelnak Professor of Economics, Poole Management School, NC State University; Eileen Norcross, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center; Richard Dreyfuss, Senior Fellow, Commonwealth Foundation and the Manhattan Institute; moderated by Jagadeesh Gokhale, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute.
2:00-3:00 p.m.

Panel 1: State and Local Pensions: The Problem and the Scope for a SAFE Solution


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Moderator: Jagadeesh Gokhale
Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

Preston Rutledge
Tax and Benefits Counsel, Senate Committee on Finance

Robert Clark
Zelnak Professor of Economics, Poole Management School, NC State University
3:00-4:00 p.m.

Panel 2: Experiences from the States: Successes, Failures, and What Comes Next


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Moderator: Jagadeesh Gokhale
Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

Eileen Norcross
Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center

Richard Dreyfuss
Senior Fellow, Commonwealth Foundation and the Manhattan Institute

Detroit’s move to declare bankruptcy has placed state and local budgets, especially pension funding problems, back on the media’s front burner. Defined-benefit pension plans for state and local employees, firefighters, police, teachers, and others were in better shape before the 2008–09 recession, but questionable policies have eroded plan assets to levels that seriously jeopardize retirees’ living standards while simultaneously escalating taxpayer burdens to reduce pension funding gaps. This Cato Institute conference brings prominent analysts and practitioners together to debate important questions in pension funding such as: How should state and local pension plans be structured? What are the pitfalls in the existing defined-benefit structures that state and local authorities have historically adopted? Should the federal government step in when past bad practices and current political imperatives leave state policymakers bereft of solutions? Or should federal officials proactively develop guidelines for state pension plans if growing prospects of plan failures may trigger demands for future federal bailouts?