January 13, 2009

TALK ABOUT UNDERFUNDED: State Pensions’ $865 Billion Loss Affects New Workers :

State governments from Rhode Island to California have run up estimated pension-fund losses of $865.1 billion, forcing some to cut benefits for new hires.

Assets for 109 state funds declined 37 percent to $1.46 trillion over the 14 months ended Dec. 16, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of stocks fell 41 percent in the period.

“Not a whole lot of people get too excited about pension funds,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said in an interview. “But if you have to pay those costs, they do grab your attention.”

After Philadelphia’s fund lost $650 million in the first nine months of last year, Nutter joined the mayors of Atlanta and Phoenix in writing a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson seeking financial help for U.S. cities. Their November letter cited investment deficits and rising pension costs.

Don’t bail ’em out — make ’em cut their costs and live with their mistakes.

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