Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates will step into the national debate over state budgets Thursday with a call for states to rethink their health care and pension systems, which he says stifle funding for public schools.
Mr. Gates in an interview said he will use a high-profile conference Thursday in Long Beach, Calif., to urge that more attention be paid to how states calculate their employee-pension funding and health-care obligations. "These budgets are way out of whack," Mr. Gates said. "They've used accounting gimmicks and lot things that are truly extreme."
The talk will be at a meeting of leading thinkers called the TED conference. Mr. Gates will outline how, as he sees it, rising state health-care costs and flawed pension accounting hamper the ability of states to pay for education. He said he'd use California as an example to illustrate his point.
"I'm just very worried about the investments we make for kids' education and what that means for the future," he said. "It's going to take voters to really look at that." Without that, he said, "The default course—where the health care costs are squeezing out education — is quite bleak."