The easiest thing for government to do is to give the voters what they want today, and worry about paying for it tomorrow. That explains much of the process that landed Puerto Rico in the equivalent of bankruptcy. Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut have trod a similar path of least resistance en route to fiscal trouble, albeit not as dire, yet, as the mess in Puerto Rico.

And so it is heartening to see that at least one major state has decided to take a long-term approach: On Monday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a pension reform law that will help the state appropriately compensate its future employees while reducing risks to its taxpayers.

When it goes into effect in 2019, the law will abolish standard defined-benefit pensions for most new state and public school employees. Those public employees will have to choose from three retirement savings options similar to the defined-contribution plans common in the private sector. Among other benefits, this could make retirement savings portable for many who may work for Pennsylvania only for a few years before moving on.

Pennsylvania had already acted in 2010 to put its pension funding ratio, which as of 2015 stood at an unsatisfactory 56 percent, on an upward trajectory. In combination with that past enactment, the new one, which also aims to reduce bloated investment costs, could render the state less vulnerable to unexpected costs in a downturn.

This has been accomplished on a bipartisan basis (Wolf is a Democrat; the Pennsylvania Legislature is Republican-controlled), showing that the cause of problem-solving is not altogether lost in American politics. Now it remains for other states to follow Pennsylvania’s example.

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