How much will the underfunded pension benefits of government employees cost taxpayers? The answer is usually given in trillions of dollars, and the implications of such figures are difficult for most people to comprehend. These calculations also generally reflect only legacy liabilities — what would be owed if pensions were frozen today. Yet with each passing day, the problem grows as states fail to set aside sufficient funds to cover the benefits public employees are earning. …

We found that, on average, a tax increase of $1,385 per U.S. household per year would be required, starting immediately and growing with the size of the public sector. An alternative would be public-sector budget cuts of a similar magnitude, or a combination of tax increases and cuts adding up to this amount.

For some states these numbers are much higher. New York taxpayers would need to contribute more than $2,250 per household per year over the next 30 years. In Oregon, the amount is $2,140; in Ohio, it is $2,051; in New Jersey, $2,000. California ($1,994), Minnesota ($1,928) and Illinois ($1,907) are not far behind.