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The outcome for which we hope

February 27, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

When Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Monday signed into law a bill to deal with unfunded liabilities for retired public sector workers in West Virginia, a burden was lifted from school districts and taxpayers.

At least we hope that will be the result of the new law.

It addresses an unfunded liability of about $5 billion for "other post-employment benefits" - primarily health insurance for retired government workers, including educators. Among other actions, the law sets aside $30 million a year to pay down the debt. It also frees up some money for spending in public schools.

But the OPEB issue is a complicated one. Another $5 billion in liabilities are to be reduced by altering benefits for retirees in the future.

State officials say the two strategies should eliminate the OPEB liability in about 24 years.

During that period, governors and legislators should monitor the situation closely and frequently. If it becomes apparent the current strategy is not working, additional action will have to be taken expeditiously.



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