From last Wednesday night to 2 AM Friday, it was nothing but return on investments, discount rates, defined benefits and unfunded actuarial liabilities. It was everything you ever wanted to know about public pensions — and then some.
I spent those days as a fellow at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference on public pensions at the Walter Cronkite Center at Arizona State in Phoenix. The 20-plus fellows heard from other journalists who’d been covering the topic, from pension board members, pension administrators and other experts in one of the perhaps driest topics, but also one that threatens almost every state’s budget.
The sessions were well-received by everyone because I know I and others picked up at least half a dozen good story ideas that will help our readers understand this crucially important issue. And we also came back with a list of resources — databases, white papers and names and emails of sources and experts — that we can use in our future stories.
Thanks to the McCormick Foundation and the Poynter Institute for sponsoring the program and my attendance there. Stay tuned for more Maine public pension stories.