11/14/2011 - Rhode Island has dug its pension system into a big hole: It's $9 billion in the red.
The nation's smallest state doesn't even have half of the money it needs to pay future retirees. Lawmakers are debating a bill to overhaul the entire system. If they do nothing, it's predicted that in seven years, 20 percent of the state budget will be mailed out in pension checks.
There's a slate of reasons why the pension system is in such bad shape.
"Essentially, lawmakers kicked the can down the road, and they've just run out of road," said Kil Huh, director of research at the Pew Center on the States, summing up the lack of political will that for decades allowed lawmakers to make expensive promises to state workers.
Read the full article and listen to the story, Rhode Island Struggles With Pension Overhaul, on NPR's Web site.