Wyoming Promises More in Pensions Than State Can Afford

According to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the state of Wyoming is promising up to $2 billion in pension benefits that the state cannot afford. While this does not change pension payments currently, future payments may be greatly affected by the lack of funding.

The Star Tribune has more on the topic:

Wyoming has promised public employees almost $2 billion more than it possesses in retirement funds, a new study found.

That number, which was based on 2013 data, represents about 6.4 percent of Wyomingites’ total personal income, according tofigures compiled by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The gap increased by 4.4 percent from 2003 to 2013.

“The unfunded portion doesn’t affect the checks going out today,” said Pew’s Barb Rosewicz. “It’s more of an issue for the checks going out decades from now.”

The nonpartisan group’s researchers looked at long-term obligations in all the states. In addition to unfunded pension costs, they examined unfunded retiree health care costs and state debt.

The group used figures from 2013, the most current data available.

“I see two takeaways here for Wyoming,” Rosewicz said. “One is of the three things we’ve already measured, unfunded pension costs are the greatest. They’re a lot more than unfunded retiree health care and debt. That’s not unusual. That’s the true of a majority of the states. It’s true in 36 states.”

[…]

Wyoming is noteworthy for the amount it owes through general obligation bonds — borrowing for roads, buildings or other infrastructure projects. It is the second-lowest nationally as a proportion to personal income, trailing only North Dakota.

Wyoming has $31.2 million in debt, representing 0.1 percent of residents’ personal income, Pew researchers found.

The state ranks as one of three with the largest decreases in debt, behind Florida and Kansas.

For more about Wyoming’s financial state, read the full article here.

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