The total debt burden of California governments sits somewhere between $648 billion and $1.1 trillion, depending upon how pension liabilities are calculated. That’s what a new study by the California Public Policy Center has determined after reviewing all outstanding budgets and pension liabilities for California’s state, local and school governments.
The best-case scenario, drawing upon the official statistics published by the various governments, places the debt at $648 billion and assumes a 7 percent return on investments when calculating pension-funding formulas. In a worst-case scenario, where pension investments earn 4.5 percent, the cumulative debt for California governments climbs to $1.1 trillion.
Governor Brown famously described the state’s $27.8 billion long-term debt as the “Wall of Debt”, but the state-level Wall represents just a fraction of the overall long-term debt carried by governments throughout the state. Combined, governments have $383 billion in debts – not including the pension liabilities.
The California Public Policy Center has often been criticized in the past for attacking unions and public employees. However, the Sacramento Bee noted that the report focused on figures produced and disseminated by public institutions and does not use privately generated statistics to develop its main points.
Read the full study at the CPPC.