Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Pension Page

Since politicians, like Luke, Tom Murphy and others are falling over themselves to take credit for the very tenuous progress the city has made in recent years, perhaps one or two will admit to their role in it's pension mess.

Chris Briem, of Null Space put up one page with a snapshot of a lot of the available and historical data.

Total Pension Liability

1995 $622,955,188
1997 $667,753,390
1999 $685,248,322
2001 $712,978,251
2003 $765,763,493
2005 $843,382,550
2007 $899,248,578
2009 ?

Unfunded Liability

1995 $515,338,148
1997 $510,778,634
1999 $248,634,632
2001 $289,919,819
2003 $453,292,528
2005 $469,774,143
2007 $523,879,854
2009 ?

Funding Ratio by Year

1995 17.28%
1997 23.51%
1999 63.72%
2001 59.34%
2003 40.81%
2005 44.30%
2007 41.70%
2009 ?

It's not like any of this stuff was as secret. To the extent we didn't know it's cause we didn't want to know. The page links to a post article from 1978 which calls it Pittsburgh's wasting disease.

A root cause of all this was the city's shrinkage from a city of close to 750,000 residents in 1960 to not much over 300,000 today. This brings on two other issues, the first of which is why did the city lose so many residents while retaining so much of the regions job base? The cities shrinkage far outpaces that of the region.

The second, is why didn't the city shrink it's employee base and even more importantly make more realistic deals with it's municipal unions? The pension mess is visible effect of a culture of deception and procrastination which permiates all levels of government. Employees were promised these plush pension and health benefits because these obligations didn't have to be disclosed honestly to the taxpayers.

This isn't just a Pittsburgh thing. Yesterday, the dollar index dropped near an all time low.

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