Up to date: 49 minutes ago Published: 49 minutes ago
Older Alaska residents deserve to retire with independence, security, and dignity. Yet Americans of all ages, including those in Alaska, are facing a crisis in which the goal of achieving adequate and secure retirement is becoming increasingly difficult. Therefore, AARP supports Alaska HB 55 and HB 220 to enable current and future government employees to participate in a defined benefit pension plan.
Our public servants – firefighters, teachers, police officers, social workers and many others – dedicate their lives to caring for Alaskan residents. They sacrifice daily to build stronger communities throughout Alaska, knowing that it means modest wages for hard work. We need to honor their commitment and take action now to build a stronger pension system that will take care of them in their later years.
For most Americans, social security income is the foundation of financial security upon retirement. However, many of Alaska’s civil servants are not allowed to participate in social security, so their dependence on the state pension system for financial security is even greater.
Right now, most current civil servants are only offered a defined contribution plan. However, two pieces of legislation, HB 55 and HB220, are moving through the Legislative Assembly to empower these civil servants by allowing them to choose to participate in a defined benefit pension scheme instead of a defined contribution scheme, which will give them a message, stable, guaranteed lifetime benefit in exchange for their service to our state.
A defined benefit pension plan is essential to provide pension security for government employees and their families, but it can also help Alaska in general have a stronger future. Having the option of a defined-benefit retirement plan will help Alaska attract and retain qualified teachers, public safety, and other public sector employees. It would ensure an orderly progression of staff through the public workforce – employment through retirement. And those proposals would keep the total compensation costs manageable for Alaska’s budget.
According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, defined benefit retirement income remains an extremely significant source of retirement income for the middle class. In Alaska, where teachers and some other government employees are unable to participate in social security, the average retirement benefit is between $ 1,898 and $ 2,913 per month. At the same time, defined-benefit retirement benefits support 8,778 jobs and $ 1.6 billion in economic production in Alaska.
Legislators should pass HB 55 and / or HB 220 for the benefit of Alaska communities and to honor an obligation to our public servants with a pension that provides independence, security and dignity.
Madeline G. Holdorf, M.Ed., is the Voluntary State President of AARP Alaska. Madeline continues her lifelong community activism with volunteer commitments to organizations including AARP, Anchorage Senior Activity Center, SAGE Alaska, Village to Village Network and St. Mark Lutheran Church. She has been an AARP member since 1996.
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