John Gramlich of the affiliated stateline.org made West Virginia the star of his article on this scandal. This state subsidizes the health care premiums of 36,000 retirees to the tune of $333 a month.
A survey of 49 states (Nebraska did not respond) found an average per capita liability of $1,622 for unfunded retiree health care benefits.
In West Virginia, the per capita liability is $4,298. Actuaries peg the unfunded liability just for retiree health care at $7.4 billion and rising.
Robert Ferguson, chairman of the finance board of the Public Employees Insurance Agency, told Gramlich the state needed $100 million a year to cover retiree health care subsidies in 2006, but will need more than $200 million a year by 2015.
Judging from the comments of state Sens. Dan Foster and Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, legislators think tax increases are part of the solution.
Private-sector taxpayers who have lost any health subsidies they ever had will follow the issue closely.