Thursday, December 18, 2008

Editorial: Use surplus to paydown state retirement debt

This editorial from the Alexandria Town Talk encourages the use of a projected budget surplus to pay down the debt in the retirement funds for state employees and public school teachers.

Combined, the two retirement systems are underfunded by $11 billion, primarily because the Legislature never ponies up enough money to pay for the benefits it bestows on state retirees. A constitutional amendment passed in 1987 requires that $10 billion of that be paid off by 2029.

The state's projected budget surplus from the 2007-08 fiscal year, which ended June 30, is $815 million. That is non-recurring money -- one-time money that can use used only for one-time expenditures. Paying down debt qualifies.

If the state used, say, $400 million of that one-time money to cut the debt, taxpayers would save more than $920 million in payments between now and 2029.

No comments: