Funding Retirement Benefits

With the state facing a looming $13 billion gap in retiree benefits for state employees, a special commission is out with three recommendations to cut the gap nearly in half.

WBUR's Martha Bebinger reports.

BEBINGER: The commission recommends diverting tobacco settlement payments and any state surplus into a fund for retiree benefits and making sure the state budget adds to the fund every year. Commission co-chair Jay Kaufman says none of the suggestions are easy. But Kaufman says if the state adopts them, it can reduce the unfunded liability for retiree benefits to $7.5 billion.

KAUFMAN: If there's any imperative here to do it, it's only that however difficult this may be, it is doubly difficult to not do this, because the price tag will be almost twice what it would be if we pre-pay.

BEBINGER: The commission says the state must also consider trimming health coverage, sick time, life insurance and other state employee benefits to cut costs over time.

This program aired on August 5, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Martha Bebinger

Martha Bebinger Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.



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