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A Review of the CalSTRS Funding Plan: Funding Plan May Not Meet Principle of “Shared Responsibility”


CalSTRS Funding: An Update

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


A Review of the CalSTRS Funding Plan: State’s Future Responsibility for CalSTRS Uncertain

February 2, 2016 - This post is the fifth in a series looking at the implementation of the CalSTRS funding plan. In this post, we describe how the state’s share of CalSTRS’ unfunded liabilities will be more sensitive to investment gains and losses than the district share.


[PDF] The 2020-21 Budget: Proposition 2 Debt Payment Proposals

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.


CalSTRS Funding Update

July 19, 2018 - In May 2018, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) released an update on the financial position of the pension system, which was largely in line with expectations. This post summarizes the update, which contains the latest estimates of the unfunded liability and contribution rates required for districts, employees, and the state.


Strengthening the CalSTRS Funding Plan

March 10, 2021 - This report provides an overview of the 2014 California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) funding plan, and analyzes the various challenges and complexities of the plan that have come to light that may impede CalSTRS’ ability to successfully eliminate the system’s unfunded actuarial obligation (UAO) by 2046. We offer several short- and longer-term recommendations for the Legislature to consider to help strengthen CalSTRS’ ability to eliminate current and future UAO, achieve long-term savings, and improve legislative oversight.


A Review of the CalSTRS Funding Plan: Conclusion

February 2, 2016 - This post is the eighth in a series looking at the implementation of the CalSTRS funding plan. In this post, we offer some concluding thoughts.


A Review of the CalSTRS Funding Plan: Recent Policy Change Increases District Rates

February 2, 2016 - This post is the seventh in a series looking at the implementation of the CalSTRS funding plan. In this post, we describe how a recent CalSTRS policy change increases projected district rates under many scenarios.


[PDF] Addressing CalSTRS' Long-Term Funding Needs

March 20, 2013 - Last year, the Legislature asked CalSTRS to submit a report detailing at least three options for addressing the unfunded liabilities of the pension system's Defined Benefit (DB) Program, which are now estimated by system actuaries to total about $70 billion. This handout for the Legislature's Public Employment and Retirement Committees (1) describes the risks of waiting to address CalSTRS' unfunded liabilities, (2) compares CalSTRS' unfunded liabilities to California's other long-term liabilities, (3) and examines possible sources for additional funding. We recommend that the Legislature adopt a plan that aims to fully fund CalSTRS' unfunded liabilities in about 30 years. A companion video further explains our findings and recommendations.


Update on the Progress of the CalSTRS Funding Plan

November 18, 2021 - This post provides an update on the progress of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) funding plan. The post: (1) describes the changes to unfunded actuarial obligation and contribution rates in 2021-22, based on the most recent actuarial valuation; (2) describes the potential effects of the 2020-21 investment returns; and (3) revisits the recommendations we raised in our March 2021 publication, Strengthening the CalSTRS Funding Plan, using the extreme volatility in investment returns to illustrate how those recommendations would strengthen CalSTRS’ ability to successfully pay down unfunded actuarial obligation—both the state’s share and employers’ share—by 2046.


[PDF] The 2016-17 Budget: California's Fiscal Outlook

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.


[PDF] The 2014-15 Budget: Overview of the May Revision

May 16, 2014 - On May 13, 2014, the Governor released the 2014-15 May Revision to his annual budget proposal. The package continues to build reserves and pay down debts, including a new proposal to fund the teachers' pension system over about 30 years. Our May revenue forecast projects $2.5 billion higher revenues compared with that of the administration—not substantially different given the size of the state budget. In addition, we project over $700 million more in local property taxes for school districts. If the Legislature were to adopt our office's higher revenue forecast and property tax estimates, General Fund spending under Proposition 98 would increase $2.7 billion, relative to the administration's May forecast. Assuming that the administration's non-Proposition 98 spending estimates are accurate, this would leave around $500 million available for building reserves, paying down more debts, and/or other state priorities.


A Review of the CalSTRS Funding Plan: Theoretical Investment Gains Have Shifted Unfunded Liabilities to Districts

February 2, 2016 - This post is the third in a series looking at the implementation of the CalSTRS funding plan. In this post, we describe how the abstract calculation upon which the funding plan is based has increased the district share of CalSTRS’ unfunded liabilities while decreasing the state share.