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"Get a government job," they said

September 25, 2016

The pension shortfall in Illinois – at $111 billion (highest in the U.S.) – dwarfs Oregon’s problem.

But this news is surprising because recent reports showed Oregon’s pension funds in better shape than most states’ fundss

Isn’t that curious? How many more ‘surprises’ like Oregon’s will be discovered?

Oregon officials face truth behind state’s soaring public pension costs
‘It’s a little bit like a Ponzi scheme,’ the chair of the Oregon Investment Council says

PORTLAND — Just how bad is Oregon’s public pension funding crisis?

Bad enough that Rukaiyah Adams, the normally polished investment professional who is vice chair of the Oregon Investment Council, broke down in tears last week as she spoke of passing a record $22 billion in unfunded promises to future taxpayers.

“My call to the Legislature and to the governor is for leadership on this, and I mean right now,” Adams said during last Wednesday’s joint meeting of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System board and the citizen panel that oversees its investments. “This is becoming a moral issue. We can’t just talk about numbers anymore.”

The numbers are bleak. Oregon’s pension system owes billions of dollars more to retirees than it has, and the last major attempt to fix the problem was shot down in courts.

This month, cities, school districts and others will find out how much more they’ll pay to help prop up the system. Higher pension costs could come at the expense of funding for other needs, including social services, infrastructure investments and education programs. […]

“We’re beyond crisis,” Katy Durant, chair of the Oregon Investment Council, said in an interview after last week’s meeting. “We should have been addressing this 20 years ago and it’s just been building. It’s a little bit like a Ponzi scheme. Sooner or later it’s going to catch up with you.”

Pension reform has been a topic at the Reason Foundation for some time now. Here’s a recent post at reason.com about pensions in California. (My emphasis below.)

Pension Mess Can’t Go On; That’s No Reason to Ignore It

President Richard Nixon’s economic adviser, the late Herbert Stein, still is known for his dictum: “If something cannot go on forever, it won’t.” It should be the rallying cry for California’s pension reformers. The numbers don’t lie, they say. Services are being cut to pay for oversized pensions, they note. Something must be done because the debt cannot keep growing forever.

They’re right. And it won’t go on forever. It can’t go on forever. At some point, even the most dogged public-pension defenders will realize the gravy train—six-figure guaranteed lifetime pensions inflated by myriad spiking gimmicks—will end because the math must catch up with the wishful thinking.

New York and Chicago already pay for more retired cops than for officers patrolling the streets. Some cities have gone belly up, with Stockton and Vallejo the most visible California examples of what happens without adult supervision. Even healthy cities are slashing services and raising taxes to meet escalating pension bills, to pay for those who often receive far more in retirement than most residents earn during their working years. […]

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