EDITORIAL: Pension ruling

For years, taxpayers in flat-broke municipalities have been faced with a crushing burden: No matter how far they and their governments fell, they’d still be on the hook for every dime of promised pension benefits to current and retired public-sector workers.

Not anymore.

In deciding Tuesday that Detroit could move forward with its historic Chapter 9 filing, Judge Steven W. Rhodes declared that pension benefits “are not entitled to any heightened protection in a municipal bankruptcy.” The ruling, like the Detroit bankruptcy itself, breaks new ground.

Bankruptcy is for entities that have no chance of ever repaying all their debts and desperately need to start over. But it’s impossible for governments to reboot if huge obligations are bulletproof. Considering states and local governments have trillions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities, this ruling is long overdue.

The idea that taxpayers should absorb all the hurt when their elected officials make financial promises that can’t possibly be kept is outrageous — and a judge agrees. The Detroit case is now a warning signal to public-sector unions and their elected sponsors: Start making difficult decisions now or face painful consequences later.


Comment section guidelines

The below comment section contains thoughts and opinions from users that in no way represent the views of the Las Vegas Review-Journal or GateHouse Media. This public platform is intended to provide a forum for users of reviewjournal.com to share ideas, express thoughtful opinions and carry the conversation beyond the article. Users must follow the guidelines under our Commenting Policy and are encouraged to use the moderation tools to help maintain civility and keep discussions on topic.