Special Briefing on Assuring Public Worker Retirement Security Amid COVID-19 Fiscal Stress

Title special briefing with a podium under a spotlight


Join a Special Briefing on Assuring Public Worker 
Retirement Security Amid COVID-19 Fiscal Stress

Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 11 a.m. EST

The Volcker Alliance and Penn Institute for Urban Research hosted an online Special Briefing featuring an expert panel discussing how states and localities are addressing trillions of dollars in public employee retirement obligations as governments attempt to balance budgets amid the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. Panelists included Donald J. Boyd, co-director, State and Local Government Finance Project, Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany; David G. Lenze, economist, regional accounts, US Bureau of Economic Analysis; Timothy Little, director and lead analyst, US States, S&P Global Ratings US Public Finance; Stephanie Miner, former Mayor of Syracuse, New York, and Volcker Alliance Board Member; and Herman B. Santos, chairman, Board of Retirement, and vice chair, Board of Investments, Los Angeles County Employees Retirement System.

Moderated by William Glasgall, Volcker Alliance senior vice president and director of state and local initiatives, and Susan Wachter, co-director of Penn IUR, this briefing was the fifteenth in a series of sixty-minute online conversations featuring experts from the Volcker Alliance’s national research network and Penn IUR, along with other leading academics, economists, and federal, state, and local leaders.

 This special briefing featured:

  • Donald J. Boyd, Co-Director, State and Local Government Finance Project, Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany
  • David G. Lenze, Economist, Regional Accounts, US Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • Timothy Little, Director and Lead Analyst, US States, S&P Global Ratings US Public Finance 
  • Stephanie A. Miner, former Mayor of Syracuse, NY, and Volcker Alliance Board Member
  • Herman B. Santos, Chairman, Board of Retirement, and Vice Chair, Board of Investments, Los Angeles County Employees Retirement System

Donald J. Boyd has over three decades of experience analyzing state and local government fiscal issues. Boyd is co-director of the State and Local Government Finance Project at the Center for Policy Research at UAlbany’s Rockefeller College, and consultant to several organizations that analyze or model aspects of state and local government finances, including the Pew Charitable Trusts and several governments and governmental associations. In addition, he is an affiliated expert at the Open Research Group.

Boyd’s previous positions include director of fiscal studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government; executive director of the State Budget Crisis Task Force, which studied fiscal challenges and risks in the 50 states; and director of economic and revenue staff for the New York State Division of the Budget. Boyd holds a Ph.D. in managerial economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

David G. Lenze is an economist in the Regional Economics Directorate at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).  He joined the BEA staff in 2004 to oversee the methodology used to measure the personal income of states and counties.  Previously he was an economist with the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida.  He has published research on state and local government defined benefit pension statistics, regional economic forecasting, and regional economic modeling of natural disasters, and has conducted research for various organizations including Nissan Motor Corporation, the Florida State Legislature, and Piedmont Environmental Council.  He has a Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University.

Timothy Little is a director and lead analyst within S&P Global Ratings’ U.S. States and Transportation group. During his tenure he has covered a variety of credits across the country. Before joining the States team, Timothy was a local government analyst primarily responsible for the northeast and southeast regions. His current portfolio of states includes Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, and New York in addition to others. 

Timothy leads the department’s pension and other postemployment benefits analytical focus team. In this role he coordinates sector commentaries for the department and ensures analytical consistency. He also regularly publishes reports on demographic trends, pensions, infrastructure, and contributes to a number of national commentaries. 

Prior to S&P Global, Timothy was a researcher with Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, DC working on state fiscal issues, particularly public sector retirement systems. Timothy attended The George Washington University and graduated with a B.A. in political science and international relations. He also received a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Connecticut. He is a member of the National Federation of Municipal Analysts and its local affiliate the Municipal Analysts Group of New York along with the American Society for Public Administration.

Stephanie A. Miner served as the mayor of Syracuse from 2010 to 2018 and became known as one of America’s most innovative mayors. She worked to transform Syracuse into a 21st century city. While in office, she turned around a nearly decade-long stalled school reconstruction project, streamlined the planning and permitting process, and witnessed more than $1.5 billion in new development across the city. She made fiscal reform and infrastructure signature issues and launched the Office of Innovation, working to implement novel solutions to historic challenges.

As a former labor lawyer, she understands the intricacies of public union contracts and employee benefits. She has worked with leaders from across New York State to address the growing pension and health care crisis facing cities and how those decisions impact the ability of communities to invest in modern infrastructure, building cities of the future.

In 2018, Ms. Miner ran as an independent candidate for governor of New York State. She received her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and her juris doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Herman B. Santos is chair of LACERA’s Board of Retirement and vice chair of its Board of Investments. He joined the Board of Retirement in October 2017 and began his first term on the Board of Investments in January 2004. He also is chair and co-creator of the Service Employees International Union Local 721 Secure Retirement Committee. Mr. Santos is committed to defending against attacks on public pensions, and his roles on LACERA’s boards and as chair of the regional SEIU Local 721 Secure Retirement Committee play an influential role in the battle to protect defined benefit pensions. A US Marine Corps veteran, he holds a Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Science in law from Glendale University College of Law and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York.

William Glasgall is senior vice president and director of state and local initiatives at the Volcker Alliance. In this role, he has supervised the publication of numerous working papers and studies, including four Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting reports. Previously, he was managing editor for states and municipalities at Bloomberg News and senior editor at BusinessWeek Magazine, where he won two Overseas Press Club reporting awards. In 2020, he was named a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Urban Research. Mr. Glasgall is a member of the National Federation of Municipal Analysts, a member of the Municipal Fiscal Health Working Group of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and a governor of the Overseas Press Club Foundation. A Boston University graduate, he was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University and a DAAD Fellow at the University of Bonn, Germany.

Susan Wachter is Sussman Professor and professor of real estate and finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. From 1998 to 2001, she served as assistant secretary for policy development and research, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the senior urban policy official and principal advisor to the secretary. At The Wharton School, she was chairperson of the real estate department and professor of real estate and finance from July 1997 until her 1998 appointment to HUD. At Penn, she co-founded and currently is co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research. She also founded and currently serves as director of Wharton’s Geographical Information Systems Lab.

Wachter was the editor of Real Estate Economics from 1997 to 1999 and currently serves on the editorial boards of several real estate journals. She is the author of more than two hundred scholarly publications and the recipient of several awards for teaching excellence at The Wharton School. Her forthcoming edited volume, Perspectives on Fair Housing, will be published by Penn Press. Previous volumes include Shared Prosperity in America’s Communities and Neighborhood and Life Chances. She has served on multiple for-profit and not-for-profit boards and currently serves on the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee of Fannie Mae and the Office of Financial Research Advisory Committee of the US Treasury. She frequently comments on national media and testifies to Congress on US housing policy.