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Understanding Public Pensions - A Guide For Elected Officials

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AARP is pleased to share with you our new pension resource, Understanding Public Pensions: Guide for Elected Officials, authored by AARP and the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. (

The purpose of this guide is to provide key facts about public pensions, including how they operate to meet the needs of employers, employees, and taxpayers, alike. The guide also discusses the important role policymakers play in making sure their state and local pension plans are well designed and adequately funded so that they can meet the goals of all stakeholders. These goals include attracting and retaining employees, workforce management, retirement security, and keeping pension costs manageable.

The guide reviews the options for public pension plan design, the imperative of adequate financing, and how to develop a sound pension funding policy to offer guidance in making annual budget decisions and to provide transparency as to how and when pensions will be funded. It also covers important considerations when making changes to a pension plan, including the plans overall goals, the effects of various proposals on the workforce and employees, and resulting financial impacts.

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment.  

 In Arizona, AARP has approximately 860,000 members. A key component of our advocacy agenda is ensuring that our state’s policymakers have the information they need to support initiatives which will enable all Arizonans to have financial independence in retirement and not require costly social services to meet their basic needs as they age and leave the workforce.

This report is the third in a series of pension resources recently supported by AARP to help inform the discussion about the important role defined benefit pensions play in promoting retirement security. The other reports, which examine how state governments have pre-funded their pensions and review significant changes made to pensions in recent years, can be found at:

We hope you find this guide informative and useful.

Click here for the study link (



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