By Peter Schroeder - 02/18/11 06:54 PM EST
"The earlier folks know what the value of these pensions are, the better they can plan," he added.
Public workers in Wisconsin are revolting against a plan being pushed by new Gov. Scott Walker (R) that would limit collective bargaining by public unions to wages, and require them to pay more for pensions and healthcare. The measure is part of his effort to close a projected $3.6 billion hole in its two-year budget.
State employees have swarmed the statehouse in Madison, while 14 Democratic state senators have fled the state to prevent the measure from moving forward.
While such budgetary drama is limited to Wisconsin, Nunes pointed out that several states, including his own, face similar fiscal situations, if not worse. California is currently grappling with a budget deficit exceeding $25 billion.
"Hopefully it's not a precursor of what's to come across the country," he said. "Wisconsin is trying to actually deal with the problem ... California is in much worse shape."
The Pew Center for the States has reported that states' pension obligations exceeded pension funds by $1 trillion at the end of fiscal 2008.
Nunes's bill, co-sponsored by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would require state and local governments to provide more information about their pension obligations, including the methods and assumptions used to make calculations. It ties a government's ability to issue tax-preferred debt to meeting those reporting obligations.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).