Republican New York State comptroller candidate Harry Wilson, on whose campaign I worked, talked tirelessly about the chronic underfunding of state pension funds in New York and across America during his campaign. His warnings – and the warnings of others – are beginning to get picked up across the country as the full extent of the shortfall is slowly being realized.
The former chairman of New Jersey’s state pension fund pegs the cumulative debt among states at $2.5 trillion in today’s Financial Times. Other estimates have debt exceeding $3 trillion and growing.
This is not the regular state debt we hear about all the time – the debt that’s dragging down New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Michigan, et al. This comes on top of that. This is an extra and massive shortfall that we have a Constitutional obligation to pay going forward.
It is hard to comprehend numbers this large. But it easy to explain what effect they will have on us.
If not forcefully addressed through public service union givebacks, this shortfall will necessarily mean:
Higher taxes at the state and local level;
Less money for schools;
Cuts in Medicaid spending, and
Massive reductions in discretionary spending, e.g., infrastructure repairs, mass transit, parks, senior services, youth programs, you name it.
Not-for-profits reliant on government support should be at Def Con One.
And yet the public service unions want more.
Bill O’Reilly is a Mount Kisco resident who writes the blog The BlackberryAlarmClock.com