The battle between Governor Walker and the public-sector unions in Wisconsin has helped clarify the depth and complexity of the problem that many states are facing as a result of (among other things) retirement promises made over the years that now threaten to drown state budgets in red ink.
But what exactly is the nature of the pension crisis? And what realistically can be done about it? If governors and state legislators were really serious about averting the coming disaster, what steps should they take?
In the forthcoming Spring 2011 issue of National Affairs, Josh Barro lays out the problem and offers some concrete and achievable solutions. The issue (packed with many other timely and thoughtful essays too) will be in stores and online in a few weeks—or you could always subscribe here. But here for now, as a preview, is Barro’s essay.