Pension Funding: A Guide for Elected Officials


An explanation of why developing a pension funding policy is essential and guidelines to follow when developing that policy.

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Key findings:
  • Have a pension funding policy that is based on actuarially determined contributions
  • Build funding discipline into the policy to ensure promised benefits can be paid
  • Maintain intergenerational equity so the cost of employee benefits is paid by the generation of taxpayers who receives services
  • Make employer costs a consistent percentage of payroll
  • Require clear reporting to show how and when pension plans will be fully funded.
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Pension Funding_A Guide for Elected Officials_13-458_Revised

Last year, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued new standards that focused on how state and local governments should account for pension benefit costs but did not address how employers should calculate the annual required contribution (ARC) necessary to fund those pensions.

To assist state and local government employers, the Big 7 (a coalition of seven national associations in Washington, D.C., whose members represent state and local governments) and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) established a Pension Funding Task Force to develop policy objectives and guidelines. The policy objectives were released in October 2012.

The Big 7 includes National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of State Governments, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors and ICMA.

The National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers; National Association of State Retirement Administrators; and National Council on Teacher Retirement also serve on the task force.

The Center is the convening organization.