Jon Ortiz

The State Worker
By Jon Ortiz
ortiz@sacbee.com
August 5, 2015

  • CalPERS’ and CalSTRS’ investment returns rose in 2013, but so did their pension debt
  • Unfunded public pension obligations totaled $4,425 per Californian in 2013
  • New ballot measure stirs debate over government retirement benefits again

Sacramento — With a new ballot proposal reigniting debate over government retirement benefits, the latest federal figures show California’s public pension debt in 2013 stood at $4,425 for every man, woman and child in the state, despite strong investment returns by public retirement funds.

The per-capita obligation ranked 11th highest among U.S. states, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of latest data by the U.S. Census Bureau. California’s total pension debt, $610.3 billion, is the largest in the nation.

A ballot proposal aimed for the November 2016 election would, among other things, change California’s constitution to require voters approve public pension enhancements.

Such statistics will likely pour into a complex debate over state and local public retirement benefits in the new few months. The ballot proposal aimed for the November 2016 election would, among other things, change California’s constitution to require that voters approve public pension enhancements. Unions oppose the measure as an attack on working people disguised as voter empowerment.

The disparity between the public pension plans’ obligations and the value of assets stood at $62 billion for CalPERS and $74 billion for CalSTRS in 2013.

To read expanded column, click here.