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Sen. Hatch preparing public pension reform bill

Sen. Hatch preparing public pension reform bill

WASHINGTON—Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, plans to introduce legislation reforming public pension plans, according to a news release issued from his office.

The announcement came with the release of a report from Sen. Hatch's office that estimates current public pension underfunding to be as high as $4.4 trillion.

The report, “State and Local Government Defined Benefit Pension Plans: The Pension Debt Crisis that Threatens America,” warns that the “crushing debt load” of underfunded pension plans “is ravaging state and local budget government budgets” and hurting the American economy.

According to the report, 31 states have funding ratios below 80%, and 11 states are projected to run through their pension assets by 2020.

“The public pension crisis plaguing our nation demands a real solution,” Sen. Hatch said in the release. “Over the coming weeks, I will be putting forward ideas to reform public pension programs in a meaningful way that doesn't leave taxpayers on the hook.” The Hatch report notes that the goals of public pension reform should include affordability for taxpayers and retirement income security for public employees while preventing any federal bailout of states.

Details on the legislation were not available at press time. A Senate Finance Committee aide said no hearings have been scheduled on the issue.

The report is available on the senator's website.

Hazel Bradford is a reporter for Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Business Insurance.