A new assessment of state pension obligations suggests the problem is even worse than it already appears. How much worse? Using a more conservative method of accounting for financial gains in the marketplace, there is a $4.1 trillion gap between assets and liabilities — known as the "unfunded liability" — of all state-level pension systems in the United States, according to State Budget Solutions, a fiscally conservative think tank that deals with tax and spending issues at the state level. On a per-capita basis, writes the Franklin Center's Eric Boehm, each American would have to fork over about $13,100 to fill that gap and fulfill the promises made to current and retired state workers.
While the 7th Circuit judge is often skeptical of the government's position, some of her conclusions will give pause to civil libertarians.
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2016: Fill it. 2020: Don't fill it.