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The US Common Sense Team


More Pension Math: Funded Status, Benefits, and Spending Trends



Much attention, in both policy research and broader political circles, has been paid to California’s statewide pensions systems. In contrast, virtually no systematic analysis of the state’s independent pension plans has been performed, though they collectively hold more than $150 billion in assets. The purpose of this report is to explore the 24 largest independent pension systems in 20 California municipalities.

Key Findings

  • The June 2011 funded ratio for the aggregated 24 systems is 53.6 percent, based on an assumed rate of return, or discount rate, of 5 percent.
  • The City of Fresno’s two systems have an aggregate funded ratio of 78.5 percent, while the Kern County system is only 41.5 percent funded.  None of the systems is at or above 80 percent funded, which is the conventional benchmark for the minimum funded ratio.
  • The unfunded liability forthe aggregated 24 systems is $135.7 billion.

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