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ND United: New survey shows great support for a 'defined benefit' retirement plan, not for a 'defined contribution' plan

The union representing public employees in North Dakota says a new survey from the state’s Human Resources Management Services shows strong support for a defined benefit retirement plan.

That’s the plan state employees have now.

An interim Legislative Committee is looking at closing that plan to new state employees, and going to a “defined contribution” plan for new hires in 2024.

The survey shows 42 percent of respondents strongly agree with the statement, “I prefer to have a defined benefit retirement plan,” while only 3 percent strongly prefer a defined contribution plan.

"People want a decent retirement," said North Dakota United president Nick Archuleta.

Archuleta said the current plan – administered by the Public Employees Retirement System – is not elaborate. For example, it doesn’t have automatic cost-of-living allowances.

"But it does offer somebody who works for the state of North Dakota, or for political subdivisions, an opportunity to have guaranteed retirement," Archuleta said.

Archuleta argues that the current plan helps recruit new state employees, because of that certainty.

"The only thing that's guaranteed in a defined contribution plan is the amount of money that you're going to put into it," Archuleta said.

Instead, Archuleta said the Legislature should instead focus on making the PERS plan “fully funded.”

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