The Beshear administration has had an undeserved pass from the mainstream media about Kentucky's looming public employee benefits disaster. But while governors in New York and New Jersey this week are getting some of that unwanted scrutiny while facing the same issue, Steve Beshear can't avoid noticing a changing tune and wondering when it will change for him.
The Press of Atlantic City said:
"Future pension and benefit costs are threatening to overwhelm the state budget - and are already squeezing local and state governments. When lawmakers return, they should get back to work on the stronger pension and benefit reforms that were scrapped - like rolling back a 9 percent pension increase the Legislature granted public employees several years ago."
The (Lower Hudson Valley) Journal News said:
"During the moratorium period, a government employer could make changes in retiree benefits only if unions representing current employees agreed to the same changes for themselves. That's not likely to happen, given the experience of school districts. Some school districts pay in excess of $20,000 annually for health insurance for a retiree and family members. That adds up considering the average teacher in New York retires at 58 and is likely to live two, three or more decades."
The Kentucky Public Pension Working Group will meet Friday September 12 to discuss state funding of the almost $28 billion underfunded benefits plans. Starting to come up with that money is something Beshear may not have to answer tough questions about at that meeting or any time before the next budget negotiations in 2010.
And that's when he is going to dump it on taxpayers.
Rather than continue to talk about how he is going to tax us more to pay for decades of state overspending, Beshear needs to start talking about how he is going to start spending less.