This op-ed in today's New York Times has some sobering numbers regarding the combined underfunding of state public pension systems:

"If you use the most recent data from government accounting standards, the collective shortfall for state and local governments nationwide appears to be about $1 trillion. If you use corporate accounting standards to estimate the value of those public pensions, however, you come up with a shortfall two and a half times as large — about $2.5 trillion. Employing a third approach that assumes, as economists generally do, that even corporate accounting standards in this area are too lenient, public pension underfunding is about $3.5 trillion, or one-quarter of gross domestic product."

The op-ed concludes,  the social contracts that exist today in many places among taxpayers, beneficiaries of public services and public employees need to be renegotiated before a crisis arrives"


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