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

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.

The piece is noteworthy because some conservative governors and pundits have called for dramatic cuts in public pensions on the basis of claims that pension obligations are a big contributor to states’ current budget problems.  Such claims are far from true, as we’ve explained.

Lehrer concluded, “Pensions, in short, aren’t the main cause of state budget problems, and many political leaders trying to bring public sector compensation down ought to focus their attention elsewhere.”  We agree that pensions are not the cause of state budget problems.