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Sources wanted for a research survey project


Guest Don Miller
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Guest Don Miller

To compare our plan benefits, defined benefit plus retiree health, I am conducting a survey that compares our benefits to other public systems. This is on both pension and retiree health. I'm looking for sources of information where this data might be found. I am also interested in contrasting the provisions and benefits of defined benefit plans in the public sector to private sector defined benefit plans, specifically in the areas of post retirement adjustments, COLA's, and ad hoc payments based on investment earnings in excess of acturial assumptions. I'd like to know why the public sector offers these enhancements while the private sector may not. I have a thesis on why differences in benefit formulas and post retirement benefits exist but would like to author a paper that would prove my thesis.

Anyone out there have any thoughts on these subjects, or where the data might be available?

Thanks

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Guest Ralph Amadio

Don, very interesting subject. Possibly I can be of some help from California.

Here the gamut of the subjects you mentioned are used. In the private sector, since we have few "giant" companies that headquarter here, other than the "newbies" from hi-tech, defined benefit plans are fairly well relegated to the public sector. I'll list my reasons: 1. Tax policy for taxpaying corporations 2. Regulatory complexity, ERISA, FASB, DOL, IRS, PBGC, SEC ad nauseam 3. Inexact regulations for Ad Hoc and Postretirement Health issues

4. Section 415 limits and all other "owner/employee" limits that make defined benefit plans less attractive for business owners to establish plans, bringing their employees along through default. (I have practiced for 36 years and remember that before ERISA the greatest plan startup motivation was greed, after ERISA most motivation was eliminated--thus the universal 401(k))

5. Differences in collective bargaining in the public sector-most states have "impairment" clauses for public employees, while in the private sector, almost everything goes on the table every contract renewal.

Some additional information, CALPERS and CALSTRS both have COLA arrangements and also relatively independent ad hoc "pay protection" funds that are attached to the plans loosely and have been subject in the recent past to Gubernatorial raiding. Post retirement healthcare funding is a "third rail" in Sacramento, like Social Security is in Washington D.C. No one wants to go there, and until forced by GASB, they won't even disclose the debt to the public. Less than 5% of our nearly 5,000 public agencies have done anything about funding. Hope this is of some help. I have much more information if you would like to give me a call @ 949-250-6369 X 127.

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