The fact that thirty-one states cannot pay their bills now is an improvement from 2018 when forty states could not pay their bills; in 2021, the number had improved to thirty-nine states. When I asked TIA CEO Sheila Weinberg, what accounted for what looks like an improvement in state finances, she stated that “temporary record gains in the stock market during that time and the Covid-relief money. Governors are claiming surpluses, while their financial reports and retirement plan numbers e indicate their state is deep in debt. The governors are only looking at the short term while taxpayers need to be concerned about the future.”
Elected officials have promised these retirement benefits to employees, including teachers, firefighters, and police, but unfortunately most state governments have not allocated enough funds to pay these benefits. Total unfunded pension liabilities among the fifty states of $699 billion means that for every $1 of promised pension benefits, states have only set aside seventy-two cents.
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