Kane continues to highlight severity of looming public pension crisis

NEW ORLEANS – On Sunday Dennis Woltering of Eyewitness News of WWL-TV hosted Kevin Kane, president of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, to explain Louisiana’s pension crisis. The interview followed a new institute report, “Louisiana’s Fiscal Albatross: The Coming Public Pension Crisis,” which has called attention to the nearly $30 billion in unfunded retirement liabilities.

State officials have set aside some money to cover employee pensions, but they are short $18 billion. For other retirement benefits, such as medical coverage, state officials have set aside nothing, and that adds another $11.5 billion to the unfunded obligations.

“There are a number of reasons why these gaps have occurred and why they’ve been growing over the last decade or so,” says Kane. “Pension benefits have been getting more and more generous. And also, generally, the size of state government has grown over the years, so we have a lot more employees that we’ve made a lot of promises to… The money is not there to honour these promises.”

When questioned, Kane resisted precise predictions regarding when a crisis might arise. He did explain, though, that taxpayers are on the hook for these benefits, and the longer these liabilities grow the deeper state officials will have to dig into the general fund to cover them. More tax dollars will go to past workers, and less will be available for current workers.

Watch the full interview here (seven minutes):

Fergus Hodgson is the capitol bureau reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and editor of The Pelican Post. He can be contacted at fhodgson@pelicanpolicy.org, and one can follow him on twitter.