The state of California is $340.7 billion in debt and while it is on track to repay much of the sum, it's not doing anything about unfunded liabilities for teacher pensions and state retiree health care, the Legislature's budget analyst said Wednesday.
Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor issued a comprehensive report on all state debts, including the "Wall of Debt" that Gov. Jerry Brown has cited.
The Wall of Debt, which was more than $30 billion when Brown resumed the governorship in 2011, is borrowing that predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature approved to cover operating deficits. It is, however, only about 10 percent of what the state owes.
Brown has pledged to repay the deficit debt — most of it money owed to school districts — but has not yet addressed other unfunded liabilities, such as those in the State Teachers Retirement System and retiree health care obligations.
The $340.7 billion figure cited in the report also could be larger because there is sharp disagreement on how the state's retirement funds have calculated their liabilities. Critics say that the funds use estimates of future earnings that are too high and were they to be adjusted downward, the debts would increase.
Taylor's report divides the $340.7 billion in debt into two categories — $200-plus billion "that merit further legislative attention" and $140.6 billion "that the state is addressing."
The biggest chunk of the first category is $73.7 billion in unfunded liabilities for teacher pensions. STRS has said it needs $4.5 billion a year in additional financing to keep the fund solvent. It also includes an estimated $64.6 billion in projected retiree health care.
PHOTO: Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua