Calif. Debt = Nearly $21K per Taxpayer

By Chuck Reed


California has racked up $168 billion in retirement debt for pensions and retiree healthcare.   As new national disclosure requirements are implemented in California, the enormous size of the state’s unfunded liabilities are becoming visible.  California’s retirement debt now exceeds its bonded debt, which is $131 billion.  

This information is released today in a report titled, The Financial State of California, by Truth in Accounting (TIA), a Chicago-based think tank that analyzes government financials.

TIA researchers calculated California's overall financial position and discovered the state needs $239.3 billion to completely pay its bills. When this debt is divided among California taxpayers, each taxpayer owes $20,900 – the state’s taxpayer burden.

The report does not include local government pension or healthcare debt.  The data is based on official state financial reports and actuarial reports, which generally use the optimistic assumption that pension fund investments will earn 7.5 percent per year for 30 years.  If they fail to do so, the taxpayers will have to make up the difference through tax increases or cuts in service.