To the editor:
I write in response to the Sept. 28 story titled “KPERS report sparks war of words.” Reporter Scott Rothschild tried to tarnish the substance of the report because its author is associated with Colorado’s TABOR and Americans for Prosperity. AfP is unpopular with pro-big-government interests, and TABOR-like measures that constrain tax increases are threats to the tax-and-spenders.
Let’s focus on the facts: KPERS has been woefully underfunded. It’s not bankrupt in the sense that today’s benefits cannot be paid from current fund balances, but it is structurally unsound in that the state would have to commit more than $8 billion to KPERS today to cover future promised benefits. For comparison’s sake, total state receipts for FY 2010 are currently projected at $5.5 billion.
For KPERS to be financially sound, the state would have to defund everything in the budget for 18 months — K-12, higher ed, transportation, social services, etc. — just to pay into KPERS. Alternatively, the state would have to commit about $700 million each year for the next 20 years in order to make up the pension shortfall. That $700 million per year figure is on the same order of magnitude as the revenue shortfalls that have led to the current budget “crisis.” Does that sound serious? Of course it does. Get a clue, Rothschild, KPERS suffers from real problems due to obfuscation and financial neglect by Kansas leaders.
Finally, J-W editors, please put Rothschild’s thinly disguised opinion pieces on the op-ed pages where they belong.