Public Pensions:  The Silent Crisis


The Minnesota Free Market Institute launched the Pension Reform Project (PRP) in 2010. The goal was to educate Minnesotans about unfunded pension liabilities so that public officials and public employees would begin to address fundamental weaknesses rather than simply tweaking the existing defined benefit system. Massive unfunded pensions, however, are just a symptom of a larger problem. The growing cost of public employment is crowding out dollars for government services. Taxpayers and public employees are pitted against one another as we all struggle to live our version of the American Dream while saving for a secure retirement amidst an uncertain investment climate. We have, therefore, expanded our project to examine the link between state fiscal health and collective bargaining.


Reform Needed

Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS):Administers ten different retirement plans which provide retirement, survivor, and disability benefit coverage for Minnesota state employees as well as employees of the Metropolitan Council and many non-faculty employees at the University of Minnesota. MSRS covers over 50,000 active employees and currently pays monthly benefits to over 20,000 retirees, survivors, and disabled employees. In addition, we administer the State of Minnesota Deferred Compensation Plan and the Health Care Savings Plan.

Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA)PERA: Serves over 250,000 current and former public employees from over 2,000 local units of government throughout the state of Minnesota. PERA also provides monthly benefits to over 80,000 retirees and other benefit recipients.

Teachers Retirement Association (TRA)Is a MN state wide pension plan that provides retirement, disability and death benefits to Minnesota public teachers, administrators, college faculty, retirees, their families and beneficiaries. as of July 1st there are 165,616 active members receiving benefits

Project Resources

Pension Reform Project

This is our “go to” source of information on public employee pensions. It is filled with tables, charts, and other items to illustrate the problem. It also has links to news stories and official studies on Minnesota’s pension obligations.

All Pension Articles

Almost every day, the fellows and staff of the Minnesota Free Market Institute offer new commentaries on the issues of the day. Public pensions are one of the topics we address. The link above will take you to those blog entries specifically written about the public pension crisis.