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LA Times Editorial: Pension Debt Will Result in Cuts to Things We Like
California's $500-billion pension time bomb
The staggering amount of unfunded debt stands to crowd out funding for many popular programs. Reform will take something sadly lacking in the Legislature: political courage...
How did we get here? The answer is simple: For decades -- and without voter consent -- state leaders have been issuing billions of dollars of debt in the form of unfunded pension and healthcare promises, then gaming accounting rules in order to understate the size of those promises.
As we saw during the recent financial crisis, hiding debt is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, General Motors did something similar to obscure the true cost of its retirement promises. Through aggressive accounting, for a while it, too, got away with making pension contributions that were a fraction of what it really needed to make, thereby reporting better earnings than was truly the case.