WASHINGTON -- The recession is driving more and more strapped state and local governments to dip into cash-rich public pension funds, with assets estimated at over $800 billion, to help balance their budgets, state and union officials told Congress yesterday.

Perversely, the growing practice could increase the burden on states by prompting Congress to enact more "unfunded mandates" requiring them to stand behind their retirement plans, the officials said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.