Stewart: State's Pension Plans Need Fixing NOW

Mimi Stewart
NMPolitics - For New Mexico’s more than 45,000 public and educational employees, ensuring the sustainability and solvency of their retirement programs is of monumental concern. Our workers deserve a fair shake. They work hard, serve the public and our communities, and play by the rules. They make significant contributions to fund these retirement programs, one of which, the PERA plan, ranks as one of the best in the nation. The solvency of these retirement funds is a concern to taxpayers as well. To find answers, the Legislature established the Retirement Systems Solvency Task Force in 2009. With 24 members representing organized labor, state agencies, private sector and lawmakers, the task force spent two years studying the difficulties facing our pension funds. PERA and ERB, with combined assets of more than $20 billion, are today more than $7 billion short to meet promised benefits. That shortfall is projected to more than double in five years and hit $20 billion by 2019. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Chavez: Spare Us the Hypocrisy Mr. President

Linda Chavez
Townhall - President Obama offered few concrete suggestions for spending cuts this week in his much-anticipated speech on reducing the federal debt, but he had lots to say about raising taxes. "As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally borne a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate. Everybody pays, but the wealthier have borne a little more," the president said. So he wants to raise the top marginal tax rate to 39.6 percent and eliminate itemized deductions for the top 2 percent of earners. What the president didn't say is that he has taken full advantage of each and every tax deduction available to him in order to lower his taxes on his more than $5 million per year income.
No one forces Obama to take these deductions, which he objects to so strenuously for everyone else in his income bracket. So let's take a look at the deductions he took last year (the president's 2009 return and that of Vice President Joe Biden are available online): In 2009, Obama took itemized deductions of $514,819, a foreign tax credit of $59,372, and a deduction for interest on his home of $52,195. He was also able to take a deduction for $49,000 he contributed to his self-employed retirement fund. If he had not taken these deductions, he would have paid taxes on an additional $675,386, which in his income bracket would have meant he owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 more in taxes at the top marginal tax rate of 35 percent. Read full column here: News New Mexico