Critic of Guaranteed Pensions Takes Helm at Pension Review Board

Critic of Guaranteed Pensions Takes Helm at Pension Review Board: Thursday’s meeting of the State Pension Review Board in Austin marked a low-key start for the controversial chairmanship of Josh McGee, an economist and critic of guaranteed-benefit pensions. McGee is an official of the Houston-based Arnold Foundation, which has been waging a national campaign attacking defined-benefit public pensions and arguing that 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans with uncertain benefits will save money for state and local governments.

McGee opened Thursday’s proceedings with mollifying words of appreciation for the public employees who depend on state and local pension systems, and the board did not tackle any tough issues at this meeting. At the next meeting (likely in May), however, this pension-oversight board is likely to take up McGee’s ideas, as yet unspecified, for a new rating system for public pension funds. In public testimony, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans expressed concern about McGee’s appointment and vowed that supporters of decent pensions would oppose any attack on defined benefits. McGee’s appointment will come up for a Senate confirmation vote when the Texas legislature convenes again. The next regular legislative session is slated for January 2017.