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Pension debacle worsens but state Capitol just ignores it

Last updated on January 15, 2020

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Over the last year Connecticut state government’s unfunded pension and retiree insurance obligations have been authoritatively estimated at between $60 billion and $80 billion. But last week a study for the Connecticut Council of Municipalities, written by Gordon Hamlin of Pro Bono Public Pensions, put the total at $112 billion.

He estimated that unfunded municipal pension obligations amount to another $14 billion. Since municipal government finance is so intertwined with state government finance, that additional $14 billion is effectively state government’s obligation as well, bringing the state’s total pension deficit above $125 billion, six years’ worth of all state government spending.

Remarkably, the CCM report passed without notice at the state Capitol. While Governor Lamont did gather legislative leaders as the report was published, it was only to talk about a transportation infrastructure plan, as if pension obligations haven’t long been crowding out all public needs in the state, including transportation.

The governor and state legislators are just rearranging the deck chairs on the SS Connecticut even as it already has struck an iceberg bigger than the one that sank the RMS Titanic. There will be no saving the state without drastically curtailing its government employee pensions, and that can’t happen without confronting the government employee unions, a fearsome special interest. Does any elected state or municipal official have such courage?

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