March 10, 2020 - Over the next decade, the state will be required to allocate an additional $12 billion to $21 billion to accelerate the pay down of state retirement liabilities under the provisions of Proposition 2 (2014). This represents a key and unique opportunity for the state. The Governor offers one strategy to prioritize these funds over the next few years. Notably, the Governor focuses on the state’s share of the unfunded liability for teachers’ pensions. While we agree this focus makes sense, the amounts the Governor proposes dedicating to this purpose are not connected to the specific actuarial needs of the teachers’ pension system. In this report, we present a method the Legislature could use to tie these payments to the system’s actual needs, which would better target the funding.
February 17, 2006 - The costs of providing health care to retired state employees and their dependents—now approaching $1 billion per year—are increasing significantly. Many other public employers (including the University of California, school districts, cities, and counties) face similar pressures. This report discusses health benefits provided to retired public employees, focusing on state retirees. We find that the current method of funding these benefits defers payment of these costs to future generations. Retiree health liabilities soon will be quantified under new accounting standards, but state government liabilities are likely in the range of $40 billion to $70 billion-and perhaps more. This report describes actions that the Legislature could take to address these costs.
January 23, 2017 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 8 (Firefighters). State Bargaining Unit 8’s current members are represented by Cal Fire Local 2881. This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.
May 5, 2017 - The CalSTRS board recently acted to change assumptions used to estimate its unfunded liabilities, including the key assumption about future investment returns--sometimes referred to as the "discount rate." These and other recent developments have eroded CalSTRS' funding situation. This brief details these changes and describes how they will affect the state, school and community college districts, and teachers
January 10, 2017 - We reviewed the proposed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) between the state and 13 bargaining units (Bargaining Units 1, 3, 4, 11 through 15, and 17 through 21). These employees are represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Locals 3, 39, and 501 (both Craft and Maintenance workers and Stationary Engineers), the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians (CAPT), and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME, Local 2620). This review is pursuant to Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.
(Corrected 1/19/17: Changed parenthetical about retiree health benefits for SEIU Local 1000.)
(Corrected 1/17/17: Changed Figure 3 to reflect 2015-16 normal costs and pay. Added text to refer to figure.)
(Updated 1/13/17: Added paranthetical about retiree health benefits for SEIU Local 1000.)
(Corrected 1/11/17: Removed reference to PEPRA employees being required to pay one-half of normal cost under PEPRA.)
May 7, 2014 - This report categorizes and provides information about $340 billion in California's key retirement, infrastructure, and budgetary liabilities. In addition, this report provides a framework for the Legislature to consider in prioritizing repayment of these liabilities and makes recommendations on which liabilities to pay down first and how the state could address such costs in the future. In general, we suggest that the Legislature prioritize actions to pay down those liabilities (1) with relatively high interest rates or (2) that result in benefits for groups or entities other than the state government. Due to its massive unfunded liability and relatively high growth rate, we recommend that the Legislature make a full funding plan for the California State Teachers' Retirement System a top priority in addressing the state's key liabilities.
November 18, 2015 - California's state budget is better prepared for an economic downturn than it has been at any point in decades. Under the main economic scenario in this year's LAO Fiscal Outlook, 2016-17 would end with reserves of $11.5 billion, assuming the state makes no new budget commitments through next year. If the economy continues to grow through 2019-20, annual operating surpluses and larger reserves could materialize, and there may be capacity for some new budget commitments—whether spending increases or tax reductions. An economic or stock market downturn, however, could occur during our outlook period. To illustrate this economic uncertainty, we provide projections under alternative scenarios such as a hypothetical recession that causes budget deficits to re-emerge. The more new budget commitments are made in 2016-17, the more likely it is that the state would face difficult choices—such as spending cuts and tax increases—later.
March 14, 2017 - We reviewed the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the state and Bargaining Unit 16. This bargaining unit is represented by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) and consists of state employed physicians, dentists, and podiatrists. This analysis fulfills our requirement under Section 19829.5 of the Government Code.
March 16, 2015 - Health benefits for retired state employees constitute a large and growing cost for the State of California. The state’s retiree health benefit program constitutes the state’s last major liability that needs a funding plan. As part of his 2015-16 budget, the Governor proposes one approach to address retiree health liabilities through the collective bargaining process. In our report, we recommend that the policy committees of the Legislature hold hearings to discuss the Governor’s proposal—as well as other options to address retiree health liabilities—with actuaries, employee groups, policy experts, and the public. We acknowledge that a delay in implementing a funding plan might make some elements of a funding plan more expensive; however, we think it is more important to get the plan right that to quickly set up a plan that can be implemented in 2015-16.