Hatch unveils bill to revamp public pension benefits

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently introduced legislation to address the public pension debt crisis and better secure retirement savings for millions of Americans.

Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, named the bill the Secure Annuities for Employee Retirement Act of 2013. It is also known as the SAFE Act.

The proposed legislation, Hatch said, would strengthen and reform much of the nation’s public and private pension benefit system.

“America cannot continue sleepwalking into the financial disaster that awaits us if we do not get the public pension debt crisis under control,” Hatch said. “A new public pension design is needed: one that provides cost certainty for state and local taxpayers, retirement income security for state and local employees, and does not include an explicit or implicit federal government guarantee.”

The unfunded pension liabilities of state and local governments have threatened the fiscal solvency of states and municipalities and have taken a toll on the nation’s long-term fiscal health and the U.S. credit rating, according to Hatch.

Public pension debt remains as high as $4.4 trillion and outstanding state and local municipal bonds add another $3.7 trillion to the debt.

“A pension is insurance against outliving the money you have available to pay your monthly bills,” Hatch continued. “It cannot be denied that people are living longer. And as wonderful as that is, it also means we need find new ways to stretch our monthly pension dollars over longer lifetimes. The SAFE Retirement Plan can meet the test.”

Hatch said the SAFE Act streamlines current pension programs by providing states, employers and American workers with stronger tools for providing pensions and retirement savings.