This article from the LA times states that just two public pensions, there are 130 of them, have approximately $120 billion in shortfalls, although those are probably the largest.

Can anyone find what the total of the entire 130 public pension shortfalls are?

  • Interesting. Would like to see IL and NY as well. Another question, of course.
    – acpilot
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 0:05

1 Answer 1


Just found this:

SACRAMENTO — California has come a long way to dig itself out of budget deficits, but the state remains on shaky ground due to nearly $400 billion in unfunded liabilities and debt from public pensions, retiree health care and bonds, financial analysts say.

California is basically bankrupt

Also this from Forbes

Half a Billion Dollars. That’s how much the California Teachers Association and the powerful Service Employees International Union have spent on California politics since 2000. The unions’ return on that “investment”? A legislature totally beholden to them for political support and campaign contributions.

Here’s another mind-boggling number: Half a Trillion Dollars. That’s an estimate of the unfunded public pension liabilities racked up by California’s state and municipal governments due to overly generous pay and defined benefit pension plans lavished on unionized government employees.

If you thought the bankruptcies of Stockton, San Bernardino, and Vallejo were entertaining, break out the popcorn to watch the next fiasco California’s famously progressive citizens voted themselves into. That first wave of municipal bankruptcies demonstrated that the odds of the state’s public pensions paying out at full value are virtually zero. The donnybrook that breaks out when the rest go sour is going to be a monster movie scale spectacle.

Jim Lacy, former Chief Counsel for Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce and General Counsel to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, has been sounding the alarm. His new book, Taxifornia, lays out the numbers and illustrates them in horrifying detail, with stories you just can’t make up—like rank-and-file firefighters making $348,000 a year who can retire at age 55 at 90 percent of salary. Meanwhile, California’s poverty rate has soared to become highest in the nation (almost one in four Californians now live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau).

  • 3
    $400 billion of liability for a GDP of $2.4 trillion (about 17%), this is not "basically bankrupt". I don't say this to minimize the problem, a state has not the same possibilities that the federal government to raise revenues, but it seems that the problem, though serious, should be manageable.
    – Joël
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 5:42
  • 2
    @Joel You shouldn't be surprised to know that the government of California does not in fact have a claim on all the personal property of its citizens. Tax revenues are $101 billion, of which 100% are allocated and spent. And given that CA is one of the highest taxed state in the Union, where are they going to get the money?
    – user9790
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 15:03

You must log in to answer this question.