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State and Local Pension Transparency Bill Should be at Top of Congress’s Agenda
February 10, 2011
By Douglas Kellogg
(Alexandria, VA) - Passage of the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act should be imperative for federal lawmakers seeking to protect taxpayers and retirees from looming liabilities, according to the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). At an event today with Rep. Devin Nunes (the bill’s sponsor), many supportive Members of Congress, and other citizen groups, NTU Executive Vice President Pete Sepp offered the following comments:
"Because they can offer some of the most generous benefits and suffer from some of the most imminent shortfalls, state and local government employee retirement programs vividly illustrate several demographic and fiscal maladies that will soon contribute to the ruin of many entitlements too, such as Social Security and Medicare. That’s just one reason why consistent, transparent reporting on the condition of state and local pensions is so vital to taxpayers as well as beneficiaries … and the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act is up to the job.
The marketplace of information on these pension systems rests on what is often flawed data-gathering, wishful thinking, and even deliberate stonewalling. Such a shaky foundation is of little value to sound policymaking. The first step to reforming any benefit program is a discovery process to determine the dimensions of the problem.
Although elected officials and citizens at the state and local levels should decide for themselves what directions reforms should take, it is entirely appropriate for Congress to help give them a constructive start with the facts they need. Congress also has a special responsibility to protect federal taxpayers from the threat of bailouts for reckless governments that would rather not face such facts. The Public Employee Pension Transparency Act would make admirable progress toward both these ends. NTU’s 362,000 members will actively engage and encourage Congressman Nunes’ colleagues in the days ahead to act immediately on this timely legislation."