Understanding Public Pensions: A Guide for Elected Officials


Public pension plans play a major role in state and local governments’ ability to attract and retain well-qualified public employees. As such, it is important for elected officials to understand how these plans operate and their role in meeting the needs of employees, employers, and taxpayers alike.

This guide from SLGE and AARP provides essential facts about public pension plans, highlighting the role of the elected official in making sure these plans are well designed and adequately funded. Key facts identified in this guide include:

  • Since 2009, all states have made modifications to their retirement plans to help ensure their long-term sustainability;
  • Every pension plan has a unique history, legal framework, and financial condition. As a result, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions from state to state or even from plan to plan to ensure that pension plans are properly financed and effectively managed to pay benefits for the long-term; and
  • Not all changes to pension plans are solutions. Any modification should be carefully considered to avoid unintended consequences or costs.

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