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Four Little-Understood Points on State Pension Problems

May 12, 2011

Fixing underfunded state and local pension programs is a long-term goal that most states can accomplish with moderate, common-sense steps. A major report we released today outlines those steps. Here are highlights from the report:

State Pensions in Better Shape Than New Pew Report Suggests

April 26, 2011

State pension funding is back in the news today with a new update on state pension shortfalls from the Pew Center on the States. For the most part, the report — which is based on each state pension fund’s most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) — gives a snapshot of pension funds two years ago, when they were still reeling from the effects of the 2008 stock market crash. The Pew report doesn’t account for the stock market’s improvement over the past two years, or the recent pension reforms in many states.

Conservative Agrees: Don’t Blame Public Pensions for State Budget Problems

April 5, 2011

Eli Lehrer, vice president of the conservative Heartland Institute, wrote in the Weekly Standard recently that pension reforms won’t solve states’ current budget problems because pension contributions make up only a small share of state spending and many states’ pension systems are in pretty good shape.

Time for a New Look at Tax Breaks for Seniors

March 23, 2011

Here’s a state-level idea that represents sound public policy and, fortunately, is attracting important bipartisan support: trimming tax breaks for pension income. Among the state leaders who have proposed it are Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, Hawaii’s Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, and the Democratic president of the Illinois Senate, John Cullerton.

30,000 State and Local Jobs Cut in February - Even As Private Sector Made Gains

March 4, 2011

Teachers, nurses, police officers, and others who work for state and local governments are still suffering from the ongoing impact of the recession.

Five Things You Might Not Know About Public Employees

February 25, 2011

Our brief new report on state and local workers includes some basic facts worth keeping in mind in the heated current debate over public employees.

“States Most Likely to Go Bankrupt”? None of Them

January 31, 2011

The Daily Beast’s new list of states “most likely to go bankrupt,” the latest example of the widespread misunderstanding of state budget problems, reflects three big problems that we addressed in a recent report. As we explained:

Time to Revisit State Tax Breaks for Seniors

November 10, 2010

While states that provide special tax breaks for seniors regardless of their income may appear attractive places to retire, those tax breaks will become significantly more costly over the next few decades as the elderly’s share of the population grows, as my colleague Nick Johnson noted in a recent U.S. News & World Report blog post. Those growing costs will make it harder and harder for these states to maintain high-quality public services, which can have a big impact on quality of life in a state.

State Budgets Looking Up, But from a Deep Revenue Hole, Cont.

October 13, 2010

Yesterday I posted about state budget conditions. Readers may want to know how we calculate state shortfalls. Here are the basics:

State Budgets Looking Up, But from a Deep Revenue Hole

October 12, 2010

State revenues are stabilizing, and many states expect some revenue growth in fiscal year 2011 (which started July 1 in most states) after the record decline of recent years, according to recent Census data. In addition, as states tally up spending and revenues for fiscal year 2010, some are finding that they ended the year in the black. Yet as I noted last week, total state shortfalls for 2012 will be about as big as this year’s. Why do states continue to face huge shortfalls if fiscal conditions are looking up?