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Inside E Street

Pension in Peril

What happens when a city stops paying its retirees?

States and cities around the nation are facing huge budget pressures to keep services running while maintaining promises to pay their employees’ retirement benefits. In some places, the crisis is so acute that serious cuts both in programs and pensions are necessary just to stay solvent.  

See also: Pension reform on an individual level.

Retirees in Prichard, Alabama had to fight for their pension checks and retirement benefits after the city had filed for bankruptcy and stopped paying them.  Inside E Street talks to some of the pensioners who were affected by the crisis, the lawyer who fought for their benefits, and Prichard’s bankruptcy attorney who explained why the city wouldn’t be able to simply keep the services running if it paid its retirees.  In February, the city agreed to make a onetime lump sum payment to its retirees.  However, it's only a partial payment of what it owes its pensioners.  

Prichard was one acute example of pensions in peril.  Inside E Street turns to Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to discuss the pension situation in West Virginia.  

Also, should states have the option to file for bankruptcy?  If so, would that be more harmful than helpful?  A debate between Elizabeth McNichol, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Ryan Ellis, Tax Policy Director of Americans for Tax Reform.  

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