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GOV'T PENSIONS - IVAN OSORIO
The state pension underfunding crisis has grown so severe that it has prompted most U.S. states to cut benefits, according to calculations by The Wall Street Journal and Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. However, cuts to date have only put a $100 billion dent in a nationwide funding gap of $900 billion. Clearly, states need to do more to lower their pension liabilities.
Government employee unions are bound to oppose further proposals to curb benefits or increase employee contributions toward their pensions. For lawmakers in some states, this will make reform a harder sell.
UNION JOBS PROGRAM - MATT PATTERSON & CRISSY BROWN
If you build it, jobs will come. That’s what Marylanders are being promised in the push to build a new casino, the state’s sixth, in Prince George’s County. County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, for example, claims that “the expansion of gaming into Prince George’s County is about the thousands of new jobs, millions of dollars in revenue to the state and county, and growing the travel and tourism industry in Prince George’s County.” The proposed casino really is a jobs program for unions.
GIFT CLAUSES SAVE TAXPAYER $ - TREY KOVACS
It has become a familiar ritual. Wealthy professional sports team owners ask state and local governments to subsidize their venues, threatening to skip town if taxpayers don’t pony up. As Bloomberg News reports, 64 professional sports arenas around the nation currently receive either public financing or tax breaks. Despite national, state, and local fiscal woes, elected officials continue to spend or forgo billions of tax dollars on professional sports stadiums owned by millionaires and billionaires. Thankfully, taxpayers in 47 states have a weapon at their disposal: state constitutional provisions that restrict government aid to business. It’s time they used them.