Ron York is a police pay consultant who has been quoted in newspapers all over the country on public employee fringe benefits issues.
So when he says governments shouldn’t pre-fund employee benefits and should instead switch to a 100% pay-as-you-go system of paying government retiree pension and healthcare benefits, people are listening.
Unfortunately for us, some of those people are probably in Kentucky.
“One of the most common statements made by politicians about government is:“We are leaving our children and grandchildren saddled with huge pension debts that will be impossible to pay.” First, let me respond to that statement. So what?”
York makes the case for ignoring mounting pension debts and paying them out of general funds only when they come due. That is pretty much how Kentucky has operated the last quarter-century. While everyone is casting blame for the banking industry’s woes, the nearly $28 billion unfunded liability for Kentucky taxpayers is set to hit home hard within a decade.
Kentucky officials have, for the most part, limped feebly toward even starting to deal with this problem realistically. Media coverage has been limited and the results have been mixed — see Lexington Herald Leader versus Louisville Courier Journal. The unpleasant fact remains: The mountain of long-term debt on the state employee benefits will soon roll up to our front door and need to be paid in large chunks.
And we don’t have the money.