State Retirement Benefit Promises Exceeded Pension Funds, Study Finds

Publication: The Washington Post

Author: David Cho


02/18/2010 - Even before financial markets crashed in fall 2008, state governments nationwide had promised to deliver $1 trillion more in retirement benefits than they had in their pension investment funds, according to a comprehensive study made public Thursday.

The problem got worse as funds dwindled in value during the downturn, according to the report from the Pew Center on the States. Yet many states are still not setting aside enough money to cover the cost of the retirement promises they made to police officers, teachers and millions of other public employees as they struggle to balance budgets buffeted in the recession by falling tax revenues.

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"What we have to remember is we have a significant problem now, but it's a problem that can be solved," said Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States. "But if states wait, if they don't take steps now, they will have an unmanageable crisis on their hands."

To read the full opinion editorial, "State Retirement Benefit Promises Exceeded Pension Funds, Study Finds," visit washingtonpost.com.

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