14 December 2009

Tracing Back West Virginia's Agony over OPEB

The Associated Press reports that "much of the uproar over West Virginia's handling of public retiree benefit costs can be traced to a Manchin administration decision to go above and beyond national accounting standards," but adds that "a recent study holds up the approach as one example of a state taking those liabilities seriously."

At least 49 of the state's 55 county school boards object to the 2006 legislation that addresses "other post-employment benefit" or OPEB costs. They plan to sue, and expect to send Gov. Joe Manchin the required 30-day notice this week.

The nonpartisan Center for State and Local Government Excellence offered West Virginia's approach in a September study of efforts to tackle these liabilities head-on.

"Successful or not, West Virginia will no doubt be one of the most watched states in the coming months as governments across the country look for ways to address their own OPEB challenges," its report said.

Update: AP and others report that Monday's meeting of Gov. Joe Manchin's unofficial OPEB workgroup "yielded no proposed solutions."

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