DCAD on the road1

Watchdog.org is a great site to read (and subscribe to) for nitty gritty (gritty) fiscal news. Doing a little search, back in 2011, Watchdog ran this headline:

Pension reformers warn of looming breaking point, cite governments’ ‘actuarial bullshit’

That was when legislators in tiny Rhode island voted overwhelmingly to remove pension benefits from all its employees and 21,000 retirees.

For pension reformers in Texas and across the country, Rhode Island was just a matter of time and a bellwether. In a report issued late last week, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation of Houston warned of underfunding of the nation’s public pensions by $1.26 trillion and the “catastrophic” municipal bankruptcies, pension debasement and wholesale public service cuts that were sure to follow if something wasn’t done.

This was written in 2011. That’s when Bill King, a Houston lawyer and columnist, helped found Texans For Public Pension Reform. His intent was to make pension reform an issue for the 2013 Legislature.

“I think the state needs to get the hell out of this (pension) business completely,” King told the Austin American-Statesman in August. Although he has pulled back a bit on that statement, King says that unless the state commits itself to paying fully each year for the pension promises it makes he can see a time in the next decade when half of a Texas homeowner’s property taxes would be needed to pay pension contributions.

Pensions, say these experts, will be the basis of the next financial downturn.