Print Column: Burgum’s Proposed Pension Bailout Must Be Tied to Real Reforms


MINOT, N.D. — It’s not the sexiest political topic, so you might be forgiven if you’re unaware of North Dakota’s chronic problems with underfunded pensions.

But the problems are real, and while Gov. Doug Burgum proposes addressing the issue with a cash infusion from the state’s reserves, that bailout needs to be coupled with real reform.

Because while politicians in our state have been promising to address pensions for a while now, nothing much is changing.

North Dakota’s two largest pensions are the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers Fund For Retirement (TFFR).

Neither of these pensions are anywhere close fully funded, and that’s been the case for a while.

Back in 2012, an audit of PERS showed the pension had just 65 percent of the funds it needed to meet projected liabilities.

The TFFR was just 61 percent funded according to a separate audit.

That year, during his budget address ahead of the 2013 legislative session, then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple touted a fiscal plan that would put the state’s pension plans “on path to complete actuarial soundness.”

We don’t seem to have actually found that path.

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