California’s ballooning state retirement costs

By Teri Sforza | Orange County Register — As vitriol over public pensions continues to rage, we find this simple chart from the state Legislative Analyst’s Office illuminating. It State Retirement Costsshows, quite graphically, that the state’s retirement costs have jumped from a bit more than $1 billion in 1998-99 to a bit more than $5 billion in 2010-11.

“State contributions to pension and retiree health programs for state employees, as well as contributions to the teachers’ pension program, have increased substantially in recent years,” the LAO dispassionately observes. “The primary reasons for this increase are the weak performance of retirement system investments in several recent years and rapid increases in retiree health costs. In addition, costs have increased due to increases in pension benefits adopted at the beginning of the last decade.”

  • Last year, retirement costs comprised about 6 percent of the state general fund budget –  $5 billion out of $86 billion.
  • In 1998-99, retirement costs comprised about 1.7 percent of the state general fund budget – $1 billion out of $57.3 billion.   Continue reading . . .
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