Wyoming Education Association

Summer 2021

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1390700

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Page 25 of 31

Retired Retired WRS is comprised of eight plans and has approximately 84,000 beneficiaries. Firefighter Plan A is one of the eight plans. It has 275 members. THIS plan is projected to run out of money in five years. NONE of WRS' other seven plans have ANY PROBLEMS. WCHR is concerned that some legislators may confuse the problems with Firefighter Plan A with the other WRS plans. To combat the potential for misinformatio n and confusion in advance of next year's budget session, WCHR needs retired and active public employees to be very proactive in sharing with legislators and other WRS beneficiaries that the WRS is in great shape. Please share that the WRS is widely and consistently recognized as one of the best managed and funded, and healthiest public retirement systems in the United States. Only Firefighter Plan A requ ires legislative action in the 2022 session. WCHR has heard rumblings of possible legislation which would change the WRS from Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution. In the current Defined Benefit plan, your retirement contributions are invested and managed by highly skilled financial experts. There is a guaranteed retirement income, AND the pension plan absorbs the inherent risk of volatile free-market investments. Conversely, in a Defined Contribution plan, you invest your own contributions, typically in a tax-deferred account, like a 401(k) or a 401(b)—there is no guaranteed benefit, and the risk is yours. Also problematic is the fact that once a retirement plan is shifted from Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution, no money from new employees will go into the original Defined Benefit plan. There will be less money to invest and, the plan will/likely will run out of money. This means some people who are working under the original Defined Benefit plan structure will not receive any retirement benefits when they retire. WEA and WEA-R have some critical "Asks". One: When it is introduced, advocate for the proposed benefits increase legislation. Two: Begin sharing now about the overall health of the WRS. Three: If the need arises, educate your legislators about the importance of maintaining our Defined Benefit plan. Four: Consider donating to WEA's Political Action Committee for Education (WEA-PACE). All of Wyoming's House of Representatives and half the Senate seats will be up for election next year. We must change some extremely education-unfriendly faces in the Wyoming Legislature. The future of Wyoming education depends on it. The time is now for positive change! Please go to wyoea.org. Click on "WEA-PACE" at the top of the page and donate however much you can; no amount is too small. Thank you. Vicki Swenson President WEA-R Congratulations, WEA active educators! You successfully completed a school year filled beginning to end with unprecedented uncertainties and adaptations. To those of you who retired this year: double Congratulations! Not only have you completed this school year, but you have moved to an amazing time of life: "Retirement"! May all your retirement plans and dreams come true! If you have joined WEA-Retired: "Welcome!" Please contact me with any questions. If you have not joined us, we encourage you to do so. You may download a WEA-R membership form at wyoea.org/join-wea-retired/. Please feel free to contact me for further information. Wyoming education needs our retired educators more now than ever before. WEA-Retired is a proud member of the Wyoming Coalition for a Healthy Retirement (WCHR). WCHR is alway s working to secure a healthy retirement for Wyoming public employees. We are currently developing legislation for the 2022 Legislative Session, which would establish a fund from which Wyoming Retirement System (WRS) benefits increases would be made. This legislation would ensure the continued health of WRS while providing WRS beneficiaries with a far past due and much-needed benefits increase. WEA Execu tive Director Ron Sniffin explained the legislation's "Endowment Fund" concept during a WCHR virtual panel discussion in April. WRS Deputy Director Mike Bleakly, three other WCHR member organization panelists, and I were also panelists. The Equality State Policy Center moderated the discussion. This presentation was highly informative. I strongly encourage you to view it as well as WCHR's July 14th virtu al presentation which further addresses the work of the WCHR. Recordings for both are available at equalitystate.org/WCHR. Even in this economic downturn, our WRS is extremely healthy. It is well-managed and ranked as one of the best public pensions in the country. Vicki Swenson President WEA-R vicki@wyoming.com WEA-Retired will be hosting its first-ever online auction in November. All proceeds will go to supporting the political campaigns of WEA-PACE-endorsed candidates in Wyoming's 2022 elections. Summer Greetings! Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. —Helen Keller Warm regards and best wishes for a healthy and enjoyable summer, 26

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