Editorial: Benefit Liabilities

The state of Alabama continues to increase the money spent on retirement benefits for state and education workers.

But it is still falling short of fully funding its total liabilities and the gap is growing.

It may be a 50% gap in five years.

Something must give.  Benefits provided now don't look sustainable.  Contributions paid now are not enough to cover costs.

And the state is broke.  Help from state taxpayers is not likely until the economy recovers.

Doing nothing now is unacceptable.

At the very least, legislation extending the time for the state to make payments to the retirement systems is needed.

Additionally, tougher choices will need to be made.

One that should be made is to extend the time when state employees and teachers can retire.  It is currently after 25 years of service.  So many now are eligible in their 40's.

These changes won't provide a total fix, but it would be a good start.