Pension Committee meets for first time


The State Administration and Veteran’s Affair Interim Committee (SAVA) met for the first time today in Helena. The committee, which has oversight of many administrative functions including the pension systems, is composed of eight members split evenly between the parties with six representatives and four senators. In a show of bicameral and bipartisan cooperation, Rep. Wendy McKamey (R) nominated Sen. Janet Ellis (D) for the chair, citing SAVA’s “gracious tradition of switching chairs.” Rep. Marta Bertoglio (R) was elected vice-chair.

One of the most popular bills of the 2021 session was House Joint Resolution 8 (HJ 8) sponsored by Rep. Frank Garner (R). HJ 8 requested that SAVA conduct an in-depth study of all Montana pension systems, with ample stakeholder and public input. The executive directors of TRS and MPERA presented today in front of the committee, citing very high returns on investments and strong financial health for their respective areas. Fingers crossed, the committee will listen to the experts and hear the message loud and clear: our pension systems are strong and stable!

The SAVA committee adjourned today without settling on a final workplan – how many days will they spend examining the pension systems, and which systems will they focus on? Who will they invite to have a seat at the table as they make decisions? What questions will they ask of the experts who they call before them to provide guidance?

While we wait on SAVA to come to a decision on how they will proceed, we can take the first step and remind them just how important pensions are to Montanans. Not only to retirees, but to active public employees – and also to their communities. Pension benefits generate a huge amount of revenue for every community in Montana, and provide a dignified and stable retirement that prevents our retired public servants from needing to take advantage of social services. Take a moment to write the committee about the value of pensions, and check back soon for more SAVA updates. 



Two new resources are available about pension economics in Montana. Key findings: pension benefits support roughly 10,000 jobs in Montana, and generate $175,000,000 in 1.4 billion in economic output. The return on investment for both taxpayers and pensioners? VERY positive. 

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MT Public Employees: Pensions Help State's Economy


Montana’s public employees are touting the roles they play in communities, even after they retire. According to AARP, retirement checks from more than 23,000 public employees in Montana helped support more than $1 billion in economic output in 2019.

Rep. Moffie Funk, D-Helena, a retired teacher, said the money stays in communities. “The money that we get from our pensions, we put back into our local economies,” Funk explained. “So, it’s great for our state’s economy as well as for our lifestyle.”