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  1. 30 Mar '10 21:00
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business/economy/30states.html?pagewanted=1&ref=business&src=me

    Payback Time

    State Debt Woes Grow Too Big to Camouflage

    By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH
    Published: March 29, 2010

    California, New York and other states are showing many of the same signs of debt overload that recently took Greece to the brink — budgets that will not balance, accounting that masks debt, the use of derivatives to plug holes, and armies of retired public workers who are counting on benefits that are proving harder and harder to pay.

    ...

    California’s stated debt — the value of all its bonds outstanding — looks manageable, at just 8 percent of its total economy. But California has big unstated debts, too. If the fair value of the shortfall in California’s big pension fund is counted, for instance, the state’s debt burden more than quadruples, to 37 percent of its economic output, according to one calculation.

    The state’s economy will also be weighed down by the ballooning federal debt, though California does not have to worry about those payments as much as its taxpaying citizens and businesses do.

    Unstated debts pose a bigger problem to states with smaller economies. If Rhode Island were a country, the fair value of its pension debt would push it outside the maximum permitted by the euro zone, which tries to limit government debt to 60 percent of gross domestic product, according to Andrew Biggs, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute who has been analyzing state debt. Alaska would not qualify either.

    ...

    Pensions are debts, too, after all, paid over time just like bonds. But states do not disclose how much they owe retirees when they disclose their bonded debt, and state officials steadfastly oppose valuing their pensions at market rates.

    Joshua Rauh, an economist at Northwestern University, and Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago, recently recalculated the value of the 50 states’ pension obligations the way the bond markets value debt. They put the number at $5.17 trillion.

    After the $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds was subtracted, there was a gap of $3.23 trillion — more than three times the amount the states owe their bondholders.

    “When you see that, you recognize that states are in trouble even more than we recognize,” Mr. Rauh said.

    ...
  2. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    31 Mar '10 05:07 / 1 edit
    so why didn't the state governments put money into the pension fund each year so that they wouldn't accumulate such a big liability?

    I suppose you blame the worker for the employer not acting properly??
  3. 01 Apr '10 16:22
    no one can blame the workers for getting all they can.

    the legislators are nominally in charge and should limit the system to match what is available in the commercial world, and also trim their budgets of unnecessary jobs.

    operative word being "should".
  4. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    04 Apr '10 09:43
    Originally posted by zeeblebot
    no one can blame the workers for getting all they can.

    the legislators are nominally in charge and should limit the system to match what is available in the commercial world, and also trim their budgets of unnecessary jobs.

    operative word being "should".
    what jobs do you think are unneccesary?
  5. 04 Apr '10 19:48
    surely the legislature and governor could come up with a prioritized list of the 500 or so state agencies (listed at link provided), and whack off (disband, volunteerize, or privatize) the bottom 30 or 50 percent of the list.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_State_of_California_agencies,_departments,_and_commissions
  6. 05 Apr '10 14:56
    Originally posted by zeeblebot
    surely the legislature and governor could come up with a prioritized list of the 500 or so state agencies (listed at link provided), and whack off (disband, volunteerize, or privatize) the bottom 30 or 50 percent of the list.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_State_of_California_agencies,_departments,_and_commissions
    perhaps you could get the ball rolling.

    If you were California's governor, which 10 of these agencies would be at the top of your "whack list"?
  7. 05 Apr '10 16:34
    California Democratic Caucus
    California Republican Caucus
    California High-Speed Rail Authority
    California Latino Legislative Caucus
    California Legislative Black Caucus
    California Office of Privacy Protection
    California Spatial Information Library
    Judicial Council of California
    California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus
    California Legislative Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus
  8. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    05 Apr '10 17:18 / 1 edit
    These guys get paid by the government for being in the caucus?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Legislative_Black_Caucus
  9. 05 Apr '10 17:45
    Originally posted by zeeblebot
    California Democratic Caucus
    California Republican Caucus
    California High-Speed Rail Authority
    California Latino Legislative Caucus
    California Legislative Black Caucus
    California Office of Privacy Protection
    California Spatial Information Library
    Judicial Council of California
    California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus
    California Legislative Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus
    what specific reasons do you have for making these your top ten?
  10. 05 Apr '10 22:11
    the legislature could meet one month a year for business that comes up during the year, and one year in 10 for business that can wait 10 years, which is likely most of it.

    we don't need to be improving government most every month of the year.

    and why do the citizens need to pay for legislative caucuses?
  11. 05 Apr '10 22:21 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by zeeblebot
    the legislature could meet one month a year for business that comes up during the year, and one year in 10 for business that can wait 10 years, which is likely most of it.

    we don't need to be improving government most every month of the year.

    and why do the citizens need to pay for legislative caucuses?
    Agreed. Let all the caucuses be funded by the interest groups that those caucuses serve. Not sure if that saves more than a few pennies, but it'll make the list shorter and that by itself would be a good thing.

    Given that you don't seem to think that government operates very effectively, I would think that you would consider that "improving government" should be an ongoing full-time project.

    but you have yet to explain why you are targeting these four programs:

    High Speed Rail
    Office of Privacy Protection
    Spatial Information Library
    Judicial Council
  12. 06 Apr '10 00:07
    Originally posted by Melanerpes
    Agreed. Let all the caucuses be funded by the interest groups that those caucuses serve. Not sure if that saves more than a few pennies, but it'll make the list shorter and that by itself would be a good thing.

    Given that you don't seem to think that government operates very effectively, I would think that you would consider that "improving government" ...[text shortened]... High Speed Rail
    Office of Privacy Protection
    Spatial Information Library
    Judicial Council
    even light rail has low ridership, what do we need high-speed rail for?

    the headline here last week was that caltrain is thinking of cutting all weekend, holiday, night, and midday service, leaving just the commuter trains.

    all the money they're spending on planning HS rail is going to waste given how unlikely it is they'll pass it.

    OPP - private sector function
    SIL - what is that?
    JC - same as legislature only more so. if the legislature and judiciary were stock brokers we'd be accusing them of churning.