ON-Lion Letter
Seven states have specific clauses in their constitutions that protect public-employee pensions -- Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, and New York.  These seven states hold 20% of state governments' total pension debt, and many billions more in local pension debt, according to an August paper from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City. 

In "Constitutional Public Pension Guarantees:  Unfair, Unaffordable, and Bad Policy," the Manhattan Institute's Stephen D. Eide and Dean Ball recommend that these states consider amending their constitutions to remove language guaranteeing pension benefits for public workers.

Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for State and Local Leadership, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

Constitutional amendments generally require a supermajority vote by the legislature and voter approval.  All seven of the states have amended their constitutions in recent decades, in some cases dozens of times.

The amendment process is worth pursuing, Eide and Ball believe, because protecting pensions in state constitutions is bad public policy.  It limits the flexibility of bankruptcy negotiators, elevates the interests of workers over taxpayers, and prevents insolvent cities from discharging obligations that they cannot afford.
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