Turn on the nightly news, and it is likely you will hear at least one story about the “pension crisis” in Alabama. There are proponents on both sides, and each insists that their facts and statistics are the absolute end-all—case closed. But as with any issue, it is hardly cut and dry. Here at the Martin Law Group, LLC, we want for you to be informed about ERISA and your benefits, and we have the tools you need to plan appropriately for your future. With that in mind, let's dig a little deeper into the issue of pension regulations in the great state of Alabama.
Pension Crisis — A Myth?
Earlier this year, David Bronner, the chief executive officer of Retirement Systems Alabama published an article titled “The myth about the pension crisis in Alabama.” In this article, Bronner makes the case that there is not, in fact, a pension crisis in Alabama and that the public pension system has already been reformed. Others have echoed these claims, noting that major reforms were already enacted in 2011-12, and simply need the necessary time to begin to show results. The article and its supporters also argue that the nearly $15 billion is not a gaping wound in the system as it represents an amount to be paid out over several years similar to a mortgage.
Others argue that the Alabama pension system is broken and that more reform is needed to ensure that thousands of citizens aren't left out in the cold. They point to the growing debt—nearly $1 billion per year, with no relief on the horizon. This debt will inevitably be picked up by the taxpayers who will carry the burden decades into the future. As it is, the government only covers about 8% of the pension returns; the taxpayers pick up the rest, and with every new employee the state hires, it commits to a 60-year pension plan it can't guarantee. Without reform, the debt will only continue to grow, devouring funds that might otherwise be allocated for other government projects that are now falling by the wayside.
What This Means for You
When all is said and done, how does the pension debate affect you? With so much talk of reform, and with so much in doubt, you need to know that your pension and your benefits are protected. If you have any questions or concerns pertaining to your pension plan, don't hesitate to contact the Martin Law Group, LLC in Tuscaloosa. We have the knowledge and the experience you can rely on. Call us today!