Vermont's state pension system is in trouble. Since an effort last year to address the inexcusable underfunding of the pensions system, drops in the national stock market guarantee that the situation has grown much more dire.
I have been warning Vermonters for years about this growing crisis, which pits state retirees against taxpayers while the economy declines -- voters who are not pension recipients are saddled with a massive tab.
I have a background in tax law, accounting, and finance. When the state claimed the pensions were underfunded by $4.5billion, I proved that they were actually more like $6.6 billion short. Now the state claims they are $6.5 billion short, and I have shown how recent market declines mean they are likely more than $10 billion in the red.
Current pension payments will eat up a huge part of the Vermont State Budget. We must divert money from pet renewable projects to first shore up these obligations, and bring pension recipients to the table to fashion voluntary private pension alternatives for new hires that over time will reduce the benefit burden. In combination, this will restore fiscal solvency to pensions without overburdening taxpayers or threatening any existing pension promises.
This one issue is one of the greatest economic and fiscal challenges that hangs over Vermont even as the national economy and existing markets continue to decline, and inflation skyrockets. We must come together to address this shared problem in the next legislative session.
As your next Orange District Senator, I will work hard to creatively and compassionately find solutions to this and other fiscal problems!