Category Archives: Budget

State budget balancing is putting pensions at risk

Some 150 state and local pension funds reported assets under $3 trillion to cover the estimated $4.1 trillion needed to pay benefits.

When it comes to the recent improvement in state finances, one retiree’s pain is another one’s gain.

More than five years after the Great Recession tore a giant hole in their budgets, most states have made big progress in stabilizing their finances.

That’s good news for millions of state taxpayers and the millions of investors who hold state-issued municipal bonds—many of whom are retirees that depend on them for a steady stream of safe income.

But the improved fiscal health owes much to a wave of cuts that have whittled away at pension benefits for current and future retirees.

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6 Ways to Ramp Up Retirement Savings by Boosting Your 401(k)

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Retirement is likely the last thing on Millennials’ minds as they embark on their first career trajectory, yet saving early through a 401(k) plan yields great returns in the long-run.

These six tips will help build and create a plan to maximize your retirement goal even if you have already started socking away your hard-earned money.

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Top Tips for a Tax-Conscious Retirement

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President Obama’s American Taxpayer Relief Act introduced a whole new set of rules for high-net-worth clients beginning in 2013. Among other things, the law raised the highest marginal tax rate from 35% to 39.6% as well as increased the tax rate on long-term capital gains and dividend income from 15% to 20%. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions were also pruned under the new law for couples making over $250,000 per year.

Certified Financial Planners and Certified Public Accountants have begun implementing a number of strategies designed to mitigate these higher tax rates on high-net-worth individuals. From managing tax brackets to timing IRA conversions, these strategies can help extend the life of a nest egg. These strategies have been evolving over time as the tax code changes, while becoming increasingly necessary due to higher tax burdens on the wealthy. (For more, see: Asset Protection for High-Net-Worth Individuals.)

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U.S. workers miss billions in retirement matches: study

Two men hold onto the bannister as they ascend a staircase in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueREUTERS/KEVIN  LAMARQUE

(Reuters) – U.S workers are losing at least $24 billion in retirement plan contributions each year by failing to take full advantage of company matches, according to recent research by 401(k) adviser Financial Engines.

One in four retirement plan participants misses out on some or all of the match, costing themselves an average $1,336 annually, said the firm, which reviewed the savings records of 4.4 million employees at the 553 companies using its services.

The missed amounts ranged from less than $100 to more than $20,000 for some highly paid, richly matched workers.

The rate of match-missing echoes those of previous studies, such as one last year by retirement plan provider TIAA-CREF that found 23 percent of those who contribute to a plan fail to get the full match.

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Here’s How Inflation Has Eroded American Workers’ Overtime Eligibility

Sheila Abramson serves customers of Langer's Delicatessen in Los Angeles in 2013.

Sheila Abramson serves customers of Langer’s Delicatessen in Los Angeles in 2013.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

President Obama is once again poised to go it alone on labor policy, this time on overtime. The Labor Department is expected in the coming weeks to release a rule making millions more Americans eligible for overtime work — currently, all workers earning below $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, are guaranteed time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week. The law may raise that as high as $52,000,Politico reports.

The rule would also change the regulations outlining which employees earning above that threshold are eligible — currently, employers can exempt some employees above that threshold if those workers could be considered “white collar.”

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Where Poor Kids Grow Up Makes A Huge Difference

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In two new studies, Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues found that where poor kids grow up has a huge effect on how much money they earn as adults.

In one study, families living in public housing were randomly selected to be eligible for housing vouchers that required them to move to low poverty neighborhoods. Kids whose families received the vouchers grew up to earn significantly more than those whose families remained in public housing.

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San Juan trustees to discuss 4.5% employee pay hikes

Trustees are to vote Dec. 3 on the SJTA pact and agreements with the San Juan Professional Educators Coalition, San Juan Supervisors Association and California School Employees Association Unit 127. Overall, all but about 150 of San Juan’s nearly 5,000 employees would see the 4.5 percent raises.

Trustees in the San Juan Unified School District on Tuesday night are to discuss whether to grant teachers, supervisors and other employees salary hikes of 4.5 percent this fiscal year, pushing district salary costs $9.1 million higher through June 30.

Most of the increase – 3 percent – would be paid retroactively from July 1, according to district officials. The other 1.5 percent would take effect on Feb. 1.

For Millions Of Millennials: Some College, No Degree, Lots Of Debt

Noelle Johnson has a lengthy commute via bus and metro to her job near Washington, D.C. She's been working toward her B.A. for nine years, and when she finally finishes, she says, she'll be able to afford to live closer to work.

If Noelle Johnson had a bachelor’s degree, she’d be able to live closer to work, she says. She wouldn’t have to spend so much of her free time hustling for babysitting gigs. She’d shop at the farmers market. She’d be able to treat her sister to dinner for once. She and her husband could go on trips together — they’d be able to afford two tickets instead of one.

There are dozens of ways that not having a college degree and dealing with student loans affects Johnson’s life.

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San Diego Teachers Threaten To Strike In 2 School Districts


Both the Chula Vista Elementary and San Ysidro school districts are stuck in contract negotiations with their unions, which have pre-approved strikes should negotiations fail.

Chula Vista and its union went back into mediation Monday. The mediator declared that the two sides were at an impasse and certified them for fact-finding, the last step of bargaining before a strike can be declared.

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Teacher Tenure Lawsuits Spread From California To New York

Campbell Brown of the Partnership for Educational Justice, with plaintiffs in their New York teacher tenure lawsuit.

Why are so many low-income and minority kids getting second-class educations in the U.S.?

That question is at the center of the heated debate about teacher tenure. In New York today, a group of parents and advocates, led by former CNN and NBC anchor Campbell Brown, filed a suit challenging state laws that govern when teachers can be given tenure and how they can be fired once they have it.

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