Five Facts About Maine Government Pensions

Five Facts About Maine Government Pensions

October 26, 2010 Posted by Sam Adolphsen - 5 Comments

The launch of new government pension data on MaineOpenGov.org gives us a wealth of information to consider. It is especially important because the next governor and legislature have to try and wrap their collective heads around a pension crisis that runs in the billions of dollars (yeah, that’s billions with a b).

The current pension crisis is a big deal. Bachman-Turner Overdrive said it best, and our economist Scott Moody just pointed out – “You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet.”

The impending retirement boom aside, for now let’s take a look at some of the key findings that come out of the pension data for the 25,727 current government retirees here in Maine.

Fact 1) There are thousands of retirees who will receive millions of dollars from their pensions.

Total Lifetime Pension Benefits

(Already Received plus Future Projected Pension)

Number and % of Retirees
$2 million or more 153 (1%)
$1 million or more 4,369 (17%)
$750,000 or more 8,632 (34%)
$500,000 or more 13,618 (53%)

Fact 2) The growth in Maine’s taxpayer-funded government pensions over the past two decades has been dramatic. As you can see from this chart, the total paid out for Maine government pensions has gone from $156 million in 1991 to $516 million in 2009:

Maine Government Pension Cost

Total Yearly Pension Cost (in millions)

Fact 3) 50% of government retirees receiving a pension worked for 25 or fewer years. You can see that from the chart below:

Retiree Years of Service

Retiree Years of Service

Fact 4) Retirees as a whole have paid in just under $900 million to the retirement system, and are getting back a whopping $15.4 billion:

Maine Government Pensions

Maine Government Pensions - Retiree Contributions vs. Total Pension Value

Fact 5) The taxpayer is on the hook to fund these government pensions. And it is a big check the taxpayer will have write. The $15.4 billion equals to $11,834 for every man, woman and child in the State of Maine.

Taxpayer Share of Maine's Government Pensions

Taxpayer Share of Maine's Government Pensions

Facts don’t lie. This is an expensive pension system. It’s billions of dollars per budget that the taxpayer is on the hook for, and we’ve got to do something about it, and soon. It will be a huge challenge for the next governor and legislature.

It’s time for Maine to start “Takin Care of Business” and get this pension crisis straightened out and finally get the taxpayer some tax relief.