Pension plans across the U.S. are failing. Here's why Utah doesn't have that problem

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  • Lifelong Republican Orem, UT
    Jan. 2, 2019 3:39 p.m.


    If we didn't allow teachers to come back into the profession after retirement and "double dip", we would have an even bigger teacher shortage. We can't get enough people to even apply for the jobs that are open and you are complaining that they are taking someone else's job?

    Please, good teachers, after you retire, come back and teach my kids and grand kids! We need you!

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Jan. 2, 2019 3:37 p.m.

    My local legislator just posted about how wise our past legislators were when they made this "brave" decision to cut out the pensions of teachers, police, and fire.

    What he still can't and probably never will see is that it has destroyed the teaching profession for men. When I started teaching over 25 years ago, there were several men teachers at the jr. high and high school plus a few at the elementary school. Now it is a rare thing to have any man stay in the profession for longer than 3 years.

    Maybe that is what they wanted but I always liked when my kids had a good male teacher that could serve as another positive role model. Not saying that women can't do that as well but it would be nice to have more men in the profession.

    The teachers coming into the profession now are seeing it more as a temporary job than a profession. Most are gone within 5 years. The quality of applicants continues to decline and we are accepting more and more "alternative" teachers with little training.

    So while my legislator can proclaim it was a good thing, the teacher shortage, lack of men in the profession, and less qualified applicants all suggest otherwise.

  • kolob1 Sandy, UT
    Jan. 2, 2019 6:58 a.m.

    "Lawmakers also put new restrictions on so-called "double dipping" or post-retirement income, making those who retire wait at least a year after retirement before they can go back to work for a local or state government entity."

    Should be ten years instead of one year. Double dipping talkes another's job. Why should someone getting a pension and social security being employed in a third endeavor. Goes to show that the greed in our society doesn't only belong to the 1%ers.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 5:29 p.m.

    Kathleen5r - ,
    Jan. 1, 2019 12:32 p.m.
    Utah is poor place to live in retirement years due to the tax burden on the elderly. VEry true. Utah needs to adjust their tax rates and property taxes for older people that make less $. Some people are well off financially in their older years but more often than not, they are struggling to live on a fixed income. We shouldn't be pushing them out of their homes with high property taxes and other taxes after they have worked hard all their lives. This is not right. We should help them be independent and stay in their homes as long as they possibly can.

  • Coach P Provo, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 3:43 p.m.


    I don't mean to be any way offensive but as a teacher for 30 years I served the taxpayers of Utah. I took less wage for benefits like health insurance (that were much better when I started than it is now) and a promised pension. I feel no guilt in taking the pension that I was promised if I completed my years of service. I guess going forward we could take pensions away from fire fighters, police officers, teachers and other public employees but I'm sure a much higher wage would be demanded. Pensions were adjusted for government workers and this by the way has led to a shortage of potential workers for police officers and teachers. But by no means should any government worker feel guilty or shamed for taking something that was promised or contracted and the government through its people should honor this contract or we don't have much of a government.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 2:19 p.m.

    Retire in Evanston? Brrrrrrrr!

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 1:11 p.m.

    The simple way to avoid pension problems is to simply fund pensions at 100% each year as you go along. Then, make reasonable and realistic assumptions about investment rates of return and properly manage the portion of the fund in higher-growth, higher-risk instruments like stocks, vs the amount held in lower-risk accounts. Don't over-promise and under-fund.

    Frankly, I prefer a 401(k) or Roth over a pension. I own the former and they are fully portable allowing me to move from one job to another as my situation over my life may dictate. The latter is owned by my employer. I both have to trust him to do the right thing for many decades, but I am also locked into working for one employer my entire career.

    We should encourage employees and employers to fund these privately owned retirement vehicles and to provide a wide variety of investment choices. A generous employer match and an "opt out" (rather than the typical "opt in") for new employees greatly increase retirement savings.

    Consistently saving 15% over a 40 year career, results in a very comfy retirement. But too many of us start too late, save too little, and then want to retire too early.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 1:05 p.m.

    Utah is one of the best managed States the the nation.

    It's too bad I have to choose between Utah government and California weather.

  • ryansaltlake SLC, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 12:44 p.m.

    To Those Who Have These Pension Benefits:

    The state pension fund has been a huge home run to you. To fund this pension fund over the last 25+ years, your monthly paycheck was lower than it otherwise would have been. However, that difference has been invested in a sound, prudent way and has earned a very good rate of return. The Utah Retirement System has done a very good job. As a result, the pension fund is large enough to pay out your benefits throughout your retirement.

    Let's turn back the clock and envision a different scenario. No pension fund was established. You would have had a higher paycheck each month (maybe 5% to 10% higher). You would have done one of two things with that amount. You either would have spent that amount or you would have invested that amount.

    And when Americans are left on their own to invest, things so often don't go well. And if you go find investment advice, the long-term return is way lower than what you would have earned with the state pension fund. Advisers, insurance salespeople, and brokers have very, very high fees and don't always give sound advice. This pension fund has been a very good outcome for you.

  • AlagnakLounger Heber City, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 12:38 p.m.

    Yes, URS pensions are among the best funded pensions in the nation; 86% funded. And, Utah uses one of the lowest (most conservative) discount rates in the nation. However, the discount rate is still too high. If you believe that the long-term rate of return on pension investments will be 7.25%, I have some beachfront property in Tabiona I’d sell you sight unseen.

  • Kathleen5r ,
    Jan. 1, 2019 12:32 p.m.

    Utah is poor place to live in retirement years due to the tax burden on the elderly.

  • ute alumni Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 12:32 p.m.

    They have the problem. Dig deeper. So do the school districts.

  • Chessermesser West Valley City, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 12:26 p.m.

    Why do government pension funds get a free pass on being fiscally sound, but private’s ones don’t? To quote Wimpy from the old Popeye cartoons, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” And guess what? He never comes around on Tuesday. This is the attitude of most government retirement funds.

    Like everything else in life, don’t obligate yourself to something you are not willing to pay for. These pensions funds should be paid for currently, not out of future funds.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 12:03 p.m.

    The "pension" now offered teachers is all 401K and takes 35 years of service to get full benefit. So maybe that's a reason among many why there is a teacher shortage in the Beehive State.

  • NeilT Harrisville, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 11:01 a.m.

    When I graduated from Weber in Law Enforcement in 1982 there were hundreds of people applying for law enforcement positions. Over a thousand people showed up at SLCC to test for SL CO Sheriff. I heard there were forty openings. Today there is a crisis in law enforcement. I actually saw a billboard recruiting for UHP. I blame it all on doing with a twenty year retirement and low pay. Utah can do better.

  • thebig1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 10:49 a.m.

    Why do we even have pensions for govt workers? Makes no sense I have to fund their pensions. It's a joke.

  • KOY Sandy, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 9:37 a.m.

    Blue Husky
    I'm glad you love Utah. It's a great place to live and raise your kids too. No Idea what your politics are but if they are typical California then please don't bring them with you. There's a reason Utah is so great. Its the culture that produces the conservative fiscally minded lawmakers, and hardworking honest people that we have here. The scenery is a huge bonus! Hope you and others keep that in mind when you go to the polls next year.

  • stevo123 Driggs, ID
    Jan. 1, 2019 9:02 a.m.

    @ Fully present, You'e right, Utah is one of a handful of states that taxes Social Security.

  • Million Riverton, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 7:18 a.m.

    The other states promised too much. Utah does not allow pension benefits to be calculated on overtime. Other state's employees will work overtime for the last three years and have their benefits calculated on those figures. Also Utah only gives cost of living increases on the initial pension at retirement, not the current amount.
    You can ask people to work for the State but they say "Oh, they don't pay enough." Well, that may be true but down the road when they are ready to retire those people who chose not to work for the state don't have a pension or are dealing with jockeying their money in 401K accounts. It is a Catch-22 decision.

  • BlueHusky Saratoga Springs, UT
    Jan. 1, 2019 5:48 a.m.

    My wife and I retired with a healthy IRA and we retired to Utah from California. Utah taxes are comparatively lower and cost of living is much lower than California. This is a major difference between Utah and many other states. Kudos to Utah for its overall financial management. We love it here where we can ski in the winter and play golf when we can't ski. Meanwhile we enjoy the scenic beauty every day.

    Dec. 31, 2018 11:25 p.m.

    "Pensions, not a problem in Utah"

    This just isn't true. Anything directly tied to the volatility of the stock market is a problem, in particular one's retirement. Utah pensions are only funded at 86% with the last few years of a parabolic stock market rise. You would think they would be funded at 125-150% at this point. This is bad news for the future.

    Just because Illinois or California are much worse doesn't mean Utah doesn't have a problem.

    The time will come when all pensions, annuities, entitlements, etc will be put to the ultimate test. Hopefully Utah pulls through with flying colors.

  • Mr Snark Orem, UT
    Dec. 31, 2018 11:01 p.m.

    Agreed about the tax burden, but other factors overcome making it a poor place to live in retirement. Go move to Evanston, WY or Mesquite, NV for less of a tax burden, and still within striking distance of all the goodness that is Utah.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 31, 2018 9:12 p.m.

    Utah is poor place to live in retirement years due to the tax burden on the elderly.