Calif. Pension Plans Running Low on Funds; Taxpayers Pick Up Costs
The data are listed on a website created by Chiang. The site includes information on 130 public pension plans operated by the state, cities and government agencies and covers fiscal years 2002-2003 through 2012-2013.
Details of Pension Fund Shortages
According to the data, some public pension plans in the state are billions of dollars short in funding.
For example, CalPERS had $281 billion to cover benefits for 1.3 million workers and retirees in 2013, but still needed an extra $57 billion for future costs. Meanwhile, the City of Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System was short $3 billion, according to the data.
Meanwhile, the number of active pension recipients in California increased by 10% from 2003 to 2013 to 3.4 million.
As a result of the funding shortages, California's taxpayers are forced to cover a greater share of the cost of future public workers' retirements, according to the Times. Meanwhile, between 2003 and 2013:
- Employer retirement contributions increased by 36%; and
- Employee contributions increased by 57%.
According to the Times, rising pension costs have contributed to bankruptcy filings by three California cities:
- San Bernardino;
- Stockton; and
Chiang said releasing the pension data could fuel a debate over how taxpayers are expected to cover the rising costs.
Chiang said that "California and its local communities will continue to wrestle with how to responsibly manage the unfunded liabilities," adding that such "debates ... ought to be informed by reliable data" (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.