This Week in Pensions

This Week in Pensions: May 3, 2024

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Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! We have gathered the best stories about pensions and retirement security from the previous week. You need to know this news in the fight for a secure retirement.


May 1 is International Workers’ Day, a day to honor the individuals who came together to demand better working conditions so that we can enjoy the rights and respect we deserve as members of the working public. Check out our May Day blog today!

The Alaska Finish Line

As the Alaska state legislature approaches the end of the 2023-2024 session, the final push to move Senate Bill 88 over the finish line is in full swing. SB 88, the bill designed to reintroduce a pension system to public employees after nearly two decades without one, passed through the Senate earlier this year but has been stuck in “legislative limbo” after House leadership buried the bill in a subcommittee, where it has been largely ignored under the pretenses of lack of information–though the bill’s fiscal note has been updated several times. 

Dan Doonan, Executive Director at the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), was in Alaska this week as labor leaders in the state doubled down on efforts to get SB 88 passed into law. In a two-part column for Forbes, Doonan chronicles his observations “from what are proving to be highly interesting conversations about the retirement benefit outlook in Alaska,” and explores the fundamental questions that remain as the window for action grows smaller. 

SB 88 is now scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, May 7, in the House State Affairs Subcommittee on Retirement and Benefits, where it has been stuck since February. Ryan Frost from the Reason Foundation has been invited to testify.

Does 401(k) Creator Ted Benna Regret Anything?

Ted Benna has been coined the “father of the 401(k)” following his 1978 realization that the small provision in the Internal Revenue Code called Section 401(k) could be a successful supplemental retirement savings vehicle for his employees. However, as the 401(k) evolved into the widespread, yet inadequate, primary retirement plan for most working Americans, Benna has strong opinions on how the defined-contribution plan has tanked retirement security in America. 

In an interview with Fortune magazine this week, Benna said, “It was never designed to be what it is today.”

“I became very disturbed by what happened with investment expenses,” he said. These days, employees bear the brunt of the costs associated with 401(k)s, but originally, employers were expected to cover the fees of these plans. As CEOs got richer, and wage growth stagnated, the 401(k) rapidly lost value in Benna’s eyes. He says about corporate bigwigs, “They learned, “Hey, this is a way we can make more money rather than less money.” So what they did was add another layer of fees.” Benna has designed a new retirement investment plan, which he says will fill the gaps that 401(k)s have left behind. 

Be sure to check back next Friday for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement! For now, sign up for NPPC News Clips to receive daily pension news from across the country directly to your inbox.