The research chief for one of the country's top public pension system organizations today presented the case for public retirement systems on Fox TV's edition of "America Live". Keith Brainard, Research Director for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA), rejected host Megyn Kelly's assertion that public pensions "are running governments into a ditch of debt." Brainard pointed out that less than 3% of funds for state and local governments are spent on pensions. He added that the frequent mention of six figure pensions for public employees is inaccurate. Brainard said the true average for rank-and-file workers is $22,000 a year.
Rejecting the often repeated claim that employee unions are behind the push to preserve pensions at all costs, Brainard said his numbers show fewer than 35% of public employees actually belong to unions. He added that many public workers are already facing furloughs, salary reductions and reduced benefits. Shifting from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan, said Brainard, "would be more trouble..than a solution."