2018 DFL Precinct Caucus Resolutions

The Committee of 13 and the Retired Teachers Council 59 encourage retirees to take the following resolutions to the precinct caucuses and move to them for approval. If passed, these resolutions will then help shape the platforms of Minnesota’s political parties and be a guide for legislative candidates running for office and serving in the MN Legislature.

Ready to introduce a resolution at your DFL precinct caucus?

First, download this page so that you can open Web pages and can still copy the resolutions from those below. You can download it as any sort of file, but keep it open and handy.

Next download the DFL precinct caucus resolution form here:

https://www.dfl.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Resolution-Form.pdf

Your resolution will need to be on this form in order to be considered at the caucus.

Once it’s downloaded, open it and keep both the text of this page and the Resolution Form open on your desktop or tablet. You will need to work between them.

Fill in the Resolution Form and print it out. Just copy and paste the language of one of the resolutions listed those below. Then save the form with its own file name for your record–and just in case. Then you can erase the resolution section of the open Resolution Form and reuse it by copying and pasting the next resolution in. You may also need to change the category. Just remember to save the changed form under a new file name.

Don’t forget to take your resolutions with you to your caucus on Tuesday, February 6th at 7:00. Look here to be sure you know the location of your caucus location: http://caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/

Exercise your democratic rights. Attend your caucus, become a convention delegate, and vote.

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Secure Retirement resolutions

I move that the party support a strong, secure retirement system for our public educators and support the goal of maintaining a defined-benefit pension plan for current and future generations.

 

I move the party support providing an investment of state funding to ensure continued financial stability of the major public pension funds.

 

Early childhood Education resolution

I move the party support funding to offer universal, school-based pre-kindergarten taught by licensed professionals, to all Minnesota 4-year-olds.

 

Higher Education resolution

I move the party support state and federal financial aid grants, loans and tax credits to make public higher education affordable and accessible for every Minnesota resident.

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Commission explores public pension privatization

An organization that spends millions of dollars on a state-by-state effort to privatize public pensions is now playing a significant role in pension discussions at the Minnesota state capitol.

The Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement (LCPR) heard testimony on Wednesday from a University of Minnesota research fellow whose pension policy research is funded in part by the anti-pension Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Also testifying was the executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System, whose state’s transition away from pensions to a private, defined-contribution system was partly due to a push from the Arnold Foundation.  

The Feb. 19 LCPR meeting is set to include testimony from a representative of the Pew Charitable Trust. Pew has received $9.7 million from the Arnold Foundation to support its Public Sector Retirement Systems project (http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/public-sector-retirement-systems), according to Governing magazine (http://www.governing.com/topics/mgmt/gov-john-arnold-pensions.html).

The Arnold Foundation has directed nearly $28 million to fund pension policy research nationwide and millions more in personal donations from the Arnolds to support political candidates and ballot initiatives aiming to switch public workers to 401(k)-style plans, according to Governing magazine.

Kurt Winkelmann, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, is leading the inter-disciplinary research project on pension policy design at the University of Minnesota’s Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute. Winkelmann told the LCPR that his project’s goal is to “provide a solid research foundation for choices” in retirement plan design and take advantage of cutting-edge tools for developing pension policy.

The dual policy goals, he said, are secure retirement income for employees and reducing volatility in taxpayer expense. Referring to a few 2017 news articles debating the nature and extent of Minnesota’s public pension challenges, Winkelmann compared the state’s pension policy to the Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day.” An article appears about funding issues, op-ed rebuttals ensue, new funds are allocated at legislature, and the cycle repeats, he said.

Using Arnold Foundation funding, the project will include academic conferences with experts and researchers, quarterly policy briefs (four of which have been published at https://cla.umn.edu/heller-hurwicz/pensions-initiative), three policy forums that will be open to the public, and two workshops to “help policymakers with pension policy,” Winkelmann said.

Sen. Sandy Pappas, D-St. Paul, asked Winkelmann whether he has ever studied Minnesota pensions before, or if this is a new endeavor. She asked whether he intends to familiarize himself with the history and reform record of Minnesota’s pensions. Winkelmann affirmed that you can’t talk about changes unless you spend some time studying how you got from Point A to Point B.

Winkelmann touched on the privatization of public pensions in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, but was unable to answer in-depth questions about those states. He also mentioned the success of pension systems in the Netherlands and Australia and the transparency of those plans. 

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, asked whether Winkelmann believes Minnesota lawmakers are doing something that’s not transparent, noting that reporting requirements for actuarial valuations for pension plans are set in statute. Winkelmann responded by touting a market-based rate (around 4 percent). Pension systems use an assumed rate of return on investment that’s higher than the market rate because long-term average investment return performance is typically higher than 4 percent.

Testifying via Skype was Joseph Fox, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System, which closed its defined-benefit plan to new state employees hired on or after Nov. 1, 2015. From 2010 to 2015, legislators studied pension reform and ultimately made changes to raise the retirement age and eliminate retiree cost-of-living adjustments, among other things. OPERS has not paid a COLA since 2008.

Today, state employees have a mandatory contribution rate of 4.5 percent but may opt to contribute more. The employer contribution for all new state employees is 16.5 percent of payroll. Of this total, only 6 percent to 7 percent goes to the employee retirement account. The remainder (9.5 percent to 10.5 percent) goes into the closed legacy fund.

Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, asked how fees are reported to participants in the defined-contribution plan, who choose from a menu of investment options through Vanguard. Fox said the fee structure is transparent; participants can access fee disclosure in all records and by viewing their individual accounts. Fox said the system’s board was very concerned about fees.

Pappas said that the 2011 DB/DC study commissioned by the LCPR and conducted by the three Minnesota statewide retirement systems should be reviewed for new commission members who might be unaware of the estimated cost of transitioning public employees from the defined-benefit plan to private savings plans. (That cost, in 2011 dollars, was estimated at $3 billion.)

Pappas asked Fox whether Oklahoma has done a cost-benefit analysis of the switch to private retirement plans and if the change was worth it. Fox said the state has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis. The driving force behind the move, he said, was the “changing face of public pensions in the country.” “Reform has been in the air for a decade now,” Fox said.

Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, asked whether the change has affected the ability of Oklahoma’s public sector to attract employees. Fox said his state has been under a hiring freeze, but admitted that new employees are unhappy about the mandatory defined-contribution plan once they become aware of the differences between the benefits of a DB plan versus a DC plan.

The LCPR next meets on Feb. 6, when it will hear from the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA), the head of the South Dakota Retirement System, and the Minnesota state demographer. On Feb. 19, a representative of the PEW Charitable Trust will address the panel.

Courtesy of TRA Communications

LCPR heard testimony from MMB and our pension plans

The Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement met on Fri., Jan. 12, to hear
financial updates from Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) as well as the
four Minnesota public pension plans.

Commission chair Sen. Julie Rosen said there will be three more meetings before the 2018
legislative session begins in mid-February. Among the topics are the conversion
to defined-contribution or 401(k)-type retirement plans, Minnesota public
employment trends, and a discussion with University of Minnesota senior pension
policy fellow Kurt Winkelmann. Winkelmann, a former managing director at
Goldman Sachs, is leading an inter-disciplinary research project on pension
policy design.

These meetings are tentatively scheduled for the weeks of Jan. 22,
Jan. 29, and Feb. 5.

MMB Commissioner Myron Frans on Friday began his testimony by saying that Gov. Mark
Dayton is “concerned and interested” in accomplishing pension reform. Frans
said that after the February economic forecast is released, the governor plans
to put forward a budget request. Frans said that a big unknown is what impact
the new federal tax bill and tax conformity will have on Minnesota taxpayers.

Frans said that he and his staff spent a significant amount of time with the big
three bond ratings agencies (Moody’s, S&P, Fitch) discussing the state’s
financial status with regard to public pensions. The bipartisan work of the
LCPR, the shared sacrifice ethos and the good investment return of 15 percent
for fiscal year 2017 impressed the agencies. Still, Frans said, they will be
watching Minnesota closely.

“It’s critical that credit agencies see us as responsible,” Frans said, adding that
it’s important that lawmakers deal with pension reform seriously this year once
the February forecast clarifies what resources might be available.

Last year, Dayton vetoed pension legislation when it was rolled into a controversial
measure that would have restricted
local governments from setting minimum wage rates and other
private-sector worker benefits.
On Friday, LCPR director Susan Lenczewski summarized the
bill that came out of the LCPR last year as well as the other bills that
emerged as the session progressed.

The fund directors then provided overviews of their plans’ financial status and
discussed the imperative of passing pension legislation to address
deficiencies. Doug Anderson of the Public Employees Retirement Association
(PERA), Erin Leonard of the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS), Jay
Stoffel of the Teachers Retirement Association (TRA) and Jill Schurtz of the
St. Paul Teachers Retirement Fund Association (SPTRFA) testified regarding
their efforts to work with stakeholder groups to find agreement on
shared-sacrifice sustainability measures.

This year’s pension commission members are:

  • Sen. Julie Rosen (Chair), R-Vernon Center
  • Sen. Sandy Pappas, D-St. Paul
  • Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls
  • Sen. Nick Frentz, D-North Mankato
  • Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault
  • Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove
  • Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester

 

  • Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, R-Sartell
  • Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake
  • Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth
  • Rep. Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville
  • Rep. Bob Vogel, R-Elko New Market
  • Rep. Mary Murphy, D-Hermantown
  • Rep. Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis