The National Public Pension Coalition, a coalition of organizations representing millions of teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, and other public sector employees, issued the following statement in response to the Pew Charitable Trusts report on public pensions and retiree healthcare.

NPPC Executive Director Jordan Marks:
“To the detriment of all public employees and all of our communities, ‘The Widening Gap Update’ uses data from fiscal years 2009 and 2010, and will undoubtedly be used by organizations and individuals like the Koch Brothers and Arnold Foundation to advance their own agendas against public employees.

“No one is more interested in the long-term solvency of retirement systems than public employees, who are taxpayers themselves and who rely on their modest pension benefits after putting their own life savings into these plans.

“Unfortunately, rather than focus on retirement security and the important role that public pensions play in local economies, Pew suggest various reforms that would slash benefits and put retirement benefits at risk. It’s simply unfair to repeatedly punish our teachers, nurses, police officers, and other public employees, many of whom do not receive Social Security.

“If states and cities continue to focus on slashing retirement benefits, public employees will be forced into poverty and forced to rely on additional state programs like Medicaid and government housing. These cuts, and the financial repercussions for retirees, have additional consequences for state budgets and for the taxpayers who would fund this increased reliance on government programs.

“The unprecedented number of pension-slashing policies in the states comes as politicians, who receive world-class benefits themselves, have teamed up with Wall Street to scapegoat America’s working people in hopes of filling budget shortfalls and expanding income from fees and expenses.

“The bottom line is our politicians repeatedly broke promises by failing to contribute the required amounts to workers’ pension plans, and then raided those funds for other purposes.

“While Pew acknowledges the factors behind the underfunded pension systems, to suggest modifications that punish public employees is irresponsible and uncalled for.