Skubick: Critics says government retirees pension and health care report offers no solutions

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Look for a report to be issued soon on the $14 billion pension and health care debt for retirees who worked in local government.

Some critics argue the report does not offer any solutions.

Task force member State Sen. Jim Stamos said “I think it will be a positive as we move forward.”

To which State Sen. Rebekah Warren replied “It’s not the report I would have written.”

The governor appointed this task force to dive into the problem of municipal pension debt which statewide totals about $14 billion dollars.

The report ranks Lansing at the top of the list with unfunded liabilities of over $431 million.

While the city of Jackson is ranked as one of the lowest debt ratio in the state.

The report talks about how the local governments got into this mess but if you are looking for a silver bullet in here to fix the problem, there is none.

The task force members concluded the retirement systems are so different there is no one size fits all solution.

“Can we eliminate it overnight, no. because we did not get here overnight,” said Sen. Stamos. “I think what was clear out of this, we do have unfunded liability that we need to resolve but one approach is not going to fit all.”

Democrat lobbyist Nick Ciaramitaro is on the panel and says something else is missing from the report; it lacks detailed data on how deep the debt problem really is.

“That’s one of the main things. We have to collect the data before we know what the magnitude of the problem is,” said Ciaramitaro.

Also missing, are any solutions on how to raise the money to correct the problem.

Democrat Sen. Warren contends the solutions are out there, but the panel never discussed them. She says another study group is needed.

“We really felt there was a big conversation missing,” said Sen. Warren. “Therefore we’ve asked the governor to reconvene another group to look at that side of the puzzle.”

The report will be released soon.

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