TheHonorable Devin Nunes
United States House of Representatives
1013 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Onbehalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write insupport for your “Public Employee Pension Transparency Act,” which wouldprovide a much-needed dose of financial transparency for state and localgovernment employee pension plans.
Pensionshortfalls, whose fundamental causes predate the slumping economy, are leavingmany states strapped for cash and questioning how best to remedy the problem.Estimates of the total unfunded liabilities across all 50 states arestaggering: between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. The wide range in thoseestimates can be attributed in part to obscure government accounting rules,particularly relating to asset and liability valuations. Because states havefew real disclosure requirements, they are at grave risk of jeopardizingretirement packages for active and retired employees and putting taxpayers onthe hook for unaffordable benefit schemes.
Bydenying federal tax benefits for bonds unless state and local governments fileannual reports on their employee pension plans, your legislation wouldencourage administrators and lawmakers to confront the grim realities ofmassive unfunded liabilities. No longer should we allow taxpayers to be kept inthe dark and deceived by inaccurate or incomplete reporting on pensions. Moreextensive reporting of assets, liabilities, and projections of futureperformance will more thoroughly inform the public about the true cost ofpension benefits and allow for a sober-minded assessment of potentialsolutions.
Thisbill would provide an important bulwark against a federal bailout of failingstate pension systems. By bringing data into the light of day, the PublicEmployee Pension Transparency Act will encourage honest governance as statesand localities tackle their pension challenges. We commend your efforts toincrease accountability within state and local government pension plans, forthe sake of both beneficiaries and taxpayers, and look forward to helping youenact this critical legislation as quickly as possible. Roll call votes on thePublic Employee Pension Transparency Act will be heavily weighted in NTU’sannual Rating of Congress.
Vice President of Government Affairs