A Wisconsin Retirement Security Forum was held in Wausau. Claiborne Hill of the Wisconsin Coalition for Retirement Security presented some important facts about retirement.

Wisconsin’s State Retirement System is well-funded and in fine shape. It has $100 billion in reserve.

This money is our money. We state employees earned it and our pension is deferred income. Each month we put some money aside in the State Retirement System so that we can have a comfortable retirement.

Our state retirement fund delivers $4 billion a year in benefits to every corner of the state.

Wisconsin’s pension plan pays about $180 million a year to retirees in central Wisconsin (Lincoln, Marathon, Portage and Wood Counties.) This supports over 1700 jobs and $25 million in state/local taxes.

Wisconsin’s public employee pension system is one of the best-funded and well-managed in America. But some, including legislators and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), the corporate lobby funded by the Koch Brothers, want radical change.

They want to exchange the ‘defined benefit’ system, which guarantees pensions, for a ‘defined contribution’ system, which sends individuals to invest on their own (as example, 401K).

The Wall Street finance industry profits from the defined contribution system but earns smaller returns on pension investments. That’s because individuals lack the expertise and benefits of scale the WRS has. It puts individual pensions at much greater risk without saving a dime for taxpayers.

Joyce Luedke of POWRS (Protect Our Wisconsin Retirement Security) is a volunteer activist who works for full protection of the Wisconsin Retirement System and Retirement Security for All.

They promote the defined benefit pensions system of Wisconsin, which is one of the best in the nation. POWRS is partnering with Wisconsin Coalition for Retirement Security, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO. You can find more information at each of their websites.

The Wisconsin Retirement System is protected by legislation. However, the current governor and Legislators wish to change the defined benefit system to one of defined contribution. They also wish to change the WRS governance structure. Therefore, we all need to work together. Be aware. Talk with neighbors, family and friends. Ask the political candidates their views on this vital topic. Be involved. There is strength in numbers. United we stand; divided we fall.