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Public Lands for State Pensions?!

Heublein Tower Aerial Frank DiNardi

In case you missed it, the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth recommended on March 1, 2018 that to make the state’s pension systems look better on paper “The state could consider in-kind contribution of land, buildings, airports, roads, healthcare facilities and other assets that the state does not need to own and may have valuable development potential.”

This proposal to use state lands as an asset to balance pension funds is a terrible idea that could have disastrous consequences for some of the state’s most precious publicly owned lands, and it is a perfect example of why we need a constitutional amendment to ensure public lands aren’t sold, swapped, transferred, or given away without public input.

At best, this is a shell game that won’t achieve savings or financial gain for the state. At worst, it is a reckless plan to give away valuable state property that could jeopardize some of the state’s most valuable assets, without transparency or public input.

Connecticut’s 142 state parks and forests are widely loved, but are also some of the state’s most precious economic engines that draw 8-9 million visitors, sustain 9,000+ private sector jobs, and attract more than $1 billion to state and local communities every year.

Once they are sold or compromised, these special places can never be replaced. If the goal is fiscal stability and economic growth, it makes no sense to put Connecticut’s publicly owned state lands at risk for perhaps a one-time benefit but more likely an eternity of regret.