Last week attendees at the National Conference of State Legislatures annual meeting got an earful about employee pensions. As Frank Keegan reported in,

Pew Center of the States director Kil Huh “said politicians treating pension accounts “like credit cards” means “they have designed a system that is fiscally unsustainable over the long run.”

Under previous rosier economic assumptions, there would be a $1.38 billion retirement benefits gap in municipal and state employees’ payments. But as Keegan continued:

Using accurate data and accounting universally accepted by economists, the gap for pensions alone was $4.6 trillion last year, with another $600 billion to $2 trillion for Other Post Employee Benefits, mainly health care, depending on how high medical cost inflation is during the next 30 years. In his opening remarks, Huh admitted “the picture is getting worse” despite pension reforms passed by 44 states in the past three years.

“Reform alone cannot replace fiscal discipline,” he said. …

These NCSL sessions for the first time reinforced for state officials what many pension reform advocates have been saying for years, and what recent studies confirmed: On their current course, all public pension systems will run out of money, some sooner, some later, but all eventually.