The topic of public pensions is an important one. Any discussion should be guided by facts. Unfortunately, Dave Anderson’s recent opinion piece [“Limit corporate welfare,” commentary, Oct. 24] fails to meet that standard and misrepresents both the policy work of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the fiscal realities facing state governments.
Mr. Anderson’s assertion that state pension shortfalls are the result of the 2008 stock market crash, for example, is not supported by the data. In 2007, state-run pension plans faced a shortfall of more than $360 billion. This total figure is from the state’s own numbers — and it shows that there was a problem even before the Great Recession hit.
To be sure, a few states such as North Carolina and Wisconsin had well-funded pension plans, but other states racked up billions of dollars of pension debt, among them Illinois and South Carolina. Now state-run pension plans have reported a funding gap of $757 billion due to a combination of skipped payments, higher risk investments and unfunded benefit increases.
One of the most important tasks facing states is to pay down their existing pension debt. Some stakeholders will want to solve the problem of pension shortfalls only with tax increases, while others will want to solve it only with changes to benefits or spending cuts. At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. How states choose to address pension challenges is up to their policymakers and citizens to decide. No matter where the funding comes from, however, the bill needs to be paid.
The Pew Charitable Trusts works in this field with no hidden agenda. We believe every public employee — past, present, and future — deserves a secure retirement, and that begins with paying for the pension promises already made. Going forward, we need an honest discussion centered around a fair set of solutions that will offer retirement security to public workers while protecting taxpayers and maintaining the ability of states to deliver important public services.
Greg Mennis, The Pew Charitable Trusts/via Internet
Thanks for the hard road
Writing to say thanks for “The hard road” article [Buzz, Aug. 15]. All three artists took their tough lives and used them to touch others in a very rich way. Great article that landed in my lap at the right time.
Our flood story
Since 1972, the Longmont Humane Society (LHS) has been a mainstay in our community, with a mission of caring, serving and improving the lives of companion animals. During the floods, we found that delivering on this mission was more critical than ever. In response to the destruction that surrounded us, the LHS opened its doors and welcomed the animals who suddenly found themselves without a home. In the days that followed, these displaced pets started trickling in.
Although we were located in a mandatory evacuation zone, due to the nature of our business, we were allowed to stay open. The staff ’s dedication was instrumental to the success of our mission as the days stretched on caring for the animals. This allowed families to deal with their immediate concerns of lost housing and displacement. These evacuated pets have been invited to stay as long as needed. We hope this allows families to get themselves settled in a safe place first and then bring their furry family members home.
In all, the mission we set out to accomplish was a great success. We took in a total of 217 evacuated, lost, stray and surrendered dogs, cats, kittens, rats and even a goose! And our reach in helping others extended beyond Longmont to other communities such as Lyons, Jamestown and other mountain towns. LHS also lent a helping hand in many other ways. For those evacuees who were able to keep their pets with them, we provided pet supplies including animal kennels, collars and food. LHS also provided food to other local rescues to assist them in feeding the influx of pets they also took in during the flooding.
The Longmont Humane Society is currently conducting the Now and Forever campaign to raise funds to ensure that we are here in the future to provide these safety net services to the Longmont community. We urge the Longmont community to support the Now and Forever campaign with a financial contribution to make sure that we are here Now and Forever. Please visit www.longmonthumane.org to donate.
We are honored that we could bring these life-saving services to the animals of our community and beyond. As a vital resource to Longmont and the surrounding communities, we understand that our pets are an integral part of the family and their welfare needs to be addressed in times of tragedy. On behalf of the LHS board, the staff and our volunteers, we are happy to be a support to our community!
Shelley McLeod, president, Longmont Humane Society Board of Directors/Longmont
If there is anything that Americans can learn from the last four years of obstructionism and extremism, it’s that neither has any place in a representative-led constitutional democratic republic.
While Americans are a tolerant lot, we do have a history of rejecting Royalists, McCarthyites, terrorists and corporatist dictators.
Is this a great country or what?