K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Wisconsin faces billions in retiree obligations

Jason Stein and Haley Henschel:

Over the next generation, Wisconsin’s taxpayers and public workers must deal with at least $6.5 billion in unfunded retirement promises made by local governments, with more than $4.7 billion in the state’s largest county alone, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation has found.

From Milwaukee to Eau Claire, local governments face problems more severe than any in a generation, a review of thousands of pages of financial documents shows. The biggest challenges lie in southeastern Wisconsin, with the city, county and schools in Racine, for instance, combining for at least $686 million in unfunded liabilities to retirees and workers — $3,500 for every person in the county.