If Pennsylvania finances were a Hollywood script, looming pension costs would be an asteroid of financial Armageddon on a direct collision course with the Commonwealth.
The state’s two primary pension systems currently report a combined debt of more than $41 billion and growing.
And that may be low.
The current payment schedule to meet those debts requires increasing contributions from taxpayers at both the state and local level from less than $2 billion this year to more than $6 billion five years from now — rising to an annual obligation of more than $8 billion 15 years from now.
If it were a Hollywood script, the hearing Tuesday on pension reform proposals in the House focused not on how to deal with the coming catastrophe but rather on the proper telescopes to use to make sure the next asteroid is caught in time to deal with it.
In reality, if the pension crisis isn’t the end of life as we know it in Pennsylvania, it’s certainly a guarantee that life as a taxpayer won’t be particularly pleasant for some time to come.
None of the bills currently under consideration address how best to pay off the debt.
Click here to read the full article by Don Gilliland published in The Patriot-News (August