By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
Nebraska's state government is one-of-a-kind. Its Legislature has only one chamber — a Senate — and senators don't use party labels.
The state now has another distinction: It is the only state that doesn't subsidize the medical care of retired government employees.
"We bring up the issue of retiree medical care, and it goes nowhere," says Mike Marvin, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees, a union. "Heck, we can't even get decent wages."
Nebraska is the only state in the country that owes nothing for the medical care of retired government workers. The other 49 states have an unfunded obligation of $445 billion, according to a USA TODAY survey.
New accounting rules require that states and local governments report how much they owe for medical benefits promised to workers after they retire. This previously unreported obligation is the third leg of a stool — along with debt and pension liability — that accountants use to compute the financial health of a government.
Some state governments take financial responsibility for the medical insurance of retired teachers and local police officers. Elsewhere, school districts and cities pay the bill. So the same $25 billion liability can fall on a state legislature or be sprinkled around hundreds of towns, school districts, water authorities and other agencies.
The USA has 89,437 branches of local government, according to the Census Bureau. A USA TODAY survey of 25 midsize to large governments found a retiree medical obligation of $126 billion.
Click here for the full story.