Erica JedynakPublished 11:28 a.m. ET Aug. 22, 2017 | Updated 1:54 p.m. ET Aug. 22, 2017

New Jersey’s pension system is failing, and it is going to take a lot of good people down with it.

That sad fact adds a touch of poignancy – along with a dash of frustration – to the latest bad news on the state’s finances. The Mercatus Center, a think tank based at George Mason University, recently rated New Jersey’s state finances as the worst in the country.

While some of the data might seem obscure to non-accountants, the problems are all too straightforward – over-promising and underfunding. Successive administrations and legislative majorities of both parties have made overgenerous commitments, then failed to fund them, leaving a tab that the state’s future taxpayers cannot possibly cover.

New Jersey’s public pension crisis is a stark case in point. With more than $235 billion in unfunded liabilities – $26,000 for every man, woman and child – the state’s retirement system is among the worst in the nation. And while you’re reading this, the problem – decades in the making – is getting worse.