For 20 years, the state pension systems in South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have achieved high funding rates and predictable costs. But they came to their success for different reasons, using a range of plan designs and pursuing various priorities.
Yet, in a series of conversations with The Pew Charitable Trusts, managers from these top-performing pension systems flagged three common elements—a plan for managing risk, a pathway for workers to achieve retirement security, and intentional and transparent pension system designs and investment selections—as central to their stories and their success.
And these lessons are especially critical in today’s volatile economy. Even as, during the 2020 fiscal year, the nation’s state pension systems collectively met an important benchmark for minimum pension contributions for the first time since 2001 and demonstrated impressive discipline in doing so, they continue to face economic uncertainty and other formidable challenges.
Through the discussions collected here, Pew examines how these three standout systems approach and surmount fiscal hurdles to help other pension systems identify options and opportunities to navigate uncertainty and build sustainable pension plans for the future.