Commission misses deadline on pension plans

January 10, 2019

HARTFORD — Already well past the date they were supposed to finish their work and expire, a commission studying Connecticut’s massive pension problem on Thursday agreed to continue work in attempt to possibly find properties and other assets that can be turned into cash.

The goal is to somehow help stabilize one of the nation’s worst under-funded pensions liabilities, which in some estimates tops $100 billion.

But the vast majority of the 8,400 state-owned properties are utilized, so selling off any of them, or putting them into trusts to benefit the pension plans of state employees and public school teachers, would necessitate the acquisition of even more property.

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, chairman of the Pension Sustainability Commission that was created in the current year’s budget and was to expire with the start of the new legislature, stressed that within a few more weeks, the panel of state officials and private-sector experts could agree on a final plan.

But the likelihood of suggesting a billion dollars in possible assets, seems less likely, panelists agreed. In particular, trying to convert state parkland or historical properties would be very controversial. Steinberg called the tactic a potential electrified “third rail” for the commission to avoid.

The commission is facing stiff opposition from the Connecticut Airport Authority over the possible privatization of the Connecticut Airport Authority and Bradley International Airport. And while Denise Nappier, the recently retired state treasurer has suggested foAt best, the commission would like to identify a potential

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