New England state pension programs are under increasing financial pressure. Strained economic conditions and financial market declines have compounded the challenges already presented by historical underfunding and increasing life expectancy of retirees. A majority of the six New England states have recently engaged in pension reform discussions in an attempt to update the design of state pension benefits, and to contain their ongoing cost.
This forum featured new research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s New England Public Policy Center that investigates state pension plans in the context of the region’s aging population. The forum is one of the ongoing efforts of the Center, which the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston established in 2005 to provide policy makers and the public with unbiased information on key policy issues. It intends to provide policy makers, policy practitioners, and regional thought leaders who are concerned about public pension reform with a deeper understanding of the relevant issues and possible solutions.
The author of the new research and keynote speaker—Richard Woodbury, former Center Visiting Scholar and economist with the National Bureau of Economic Research—described the pension plans currently offered to state employees in the New England states, and how the plan provisions vary across states. He also introduced some approaches to pension reform. Panelists discussed the fiscal imperative for—and challenges to—implementing state pension reform and describe tools to promote effective reform, as well as potential consequences.
Registration and continental breakfast
Welcoming and introductions
Presentation of new NEPPC Research Report:
Responses from a panel of national and regional experts
Questions from the audience
Richard Woodbury is an economist and administrator with the program on aging at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and a former Visiting Scholar at the New England Public Policy Center. Dr. Woodbury’s academic work has focused on the implications of population aging and on the design of public and private retirement policies. He previously served as a Representative in the Maine State Legislature, where he chaired the Tax Committee as well as the Joint Select Committee on Property Tax Reform. Dr. Woodbury is a graduate of Williams College and received a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
Jeb Spaulding is State Treasurer for the state of Vermont where he emphasizes continuous improvement in treasury fundamentals such as timely and accurate bank reconciliations, enhanced customer service, expanded outreach and compliance in the unclaimed property division, and proactive investment management and oversight. He previously served in the Vermont State Senate, where he chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Joint Fiscal Committee, the Senate Education Committee, and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. Mr. Spaulding is a graduate of Antioch College and received a M. Ed. from the University of Vermont.
John Simmons is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC). Mr. Simmons is responsible for the development, administration, and promotion of an applied research and public education program on a broad range of fiscal, public policy, and public administration issues affecting state and local governments. He previously served as Chief Financial Officer for the city of Boston, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Director of Administration for the city of Providence, and Deputy General Treasurer for the state of Rhode Island. Mr. Simmons is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University and received a MPA from the University of Hartford.
Katherine Barrett is a Senior Adviser to the Pew Center on the States where she has worked on a variety of topics including tax policy, pensions, post-employment health benefits, outsourcing, and performance management. In addition, she and her husband, Richard Greene, are correspondents and management columnists for Governing magazine and the founding editors of the B&G Report, a bi-weekly e-newsletter which goes to top leaders in government management. They also write a blog about the implementation of the Recovery Act for the IBM Center for the Business of Government.
Lisa Shapiro is Chief Economist with Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell. Dr. Shapiro analyzes economic and industry trends, and provides strategic advice to businesses and institutions. For more than 15 years, she has worked on complex economic and financial projects in public and private settings. In addition, she is serving her second term as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the New Hampshire Retirement System. Dr. Shapiro received a Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University.
Marguerite Young is the Director for public pension fund relationships for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Capital Stewardship Program. SEIU represents nearly 900,000 public sector employees nationally who are participants in pension plans with approximately $1 trillion in assets. Ms. Young works closely with SEIU locals, pension fund trustees and staff, as well as investment managers and service providers. In addition, she leads the union’s work with the National Public Pension Coalition, an organization founded by the major public sector unions to provide grassroots support and resources for those fighting attacks to retirement security. Ms. Young received a B.S. in Political Economy of Natural Resources from the University of California at Berkeley