Letter: Alaska’s public employees deserve appropriate benefits

Thank you to Senators Egan, French, Ellis and Gardner, and Reps. Kerttula and Tuck, for continuing to fight for retirement equality for public employees, such as teachers, police, and firefighters, hired since 2006. Most Alaskans remain unaware that unlike nearly every other American, these employees don’t have a defined benefit of any kind. Any person hired by a private company, whether it’s McDonald’s or Google, gets a defined benefit via Social Security. Hard-working public employees don’t have this option. They are in a 401(k) type program with an employer contribution, similar to what private companies offer while also paying Social Security taxes.

Remaining on a defined contribution plan while not paying Social Security doesn’t even seem legal, as one major part of originally opting out was the stability of a state defined benefit plan as a replacement for Social Security. So, Alaska, either return the state to a defined benefit program and put these employees back on equal footing with, well, every other American, or start paying Social Security.

— Ben Walker