States have a $1.4 trillion pension problem

In most states, public pension funds don't have enough money to pay for benefits they've promised to government worke...

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 8:05 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 8:05 PM

In most states, public pension funds don't have enough money to pay for benefits they've promised to government workers.

The problem is getting worse. Overall, the shortfall across states grew by $295 billion between 2015 and 2016, according to a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

All together, state pension plans had just $2.6 trillion to cover a cumulative liability of $4 trillion.

"Many state retirement systems are on an unsustainable course," the report said.

Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, and New Jersey have less than half of the assets needed to pay promised benefits and another 17 states have less than two-thirds.

One driver of the growing shortfall was the low investment return in 2016. The median return was 1%, while states had projected a 7.5% return.

But the gap can't be blamed on the stock market entirely. Many states simply don't contribute enough money. Twenty-three states still would have fallen short of what they needed even if their investment assumptions had been correct in 2016, according to the report.

Related: States are changing teacher pensions

There's no one-size-fits all approach to fix the pension problem. States with well-funded plans vary in the benefits they offer, investment choices, and assumptions they use to determine how much they need to contribute.

Lawmakers in some states have changed the pension benefits they promise to future workers as a way to stem the growing liability. Despite teacher protests, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed controversial legislation this week that changes pension benefits.

Related: 3 things teachers should know about retirement planning

States with the worst pension fund shortfalls

1. Kentucky and New Jersey: 31% funded

2. Illinois: 36% funded

3. Connecticut: 41% funded

4. Colorado: 46% funded

5. Hawaii: 51% funded

States with the best funded pension plans

1. Wisconsin: 99% funded

2. South Dakota: 97% funded

3. Tennessee: 94% funded

4. New York: 91% funded

5. Nebraska: 89% funded

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 92432

Reported Deaths: 2792
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6931154
DeSoto535455
Harrison370771
Jackson335867
Madison319086
Rankin316174
Lee256166
Jones237678
Forrest231769
Washington216371
Lafayette205039
Lauderdale1990124
Bolivar177565
Oktibbeha174149
Lamar157733
Neshoba1529103
Panola142426
Sunflower139643
Lowndes138957
Warren137250
Leflore135380
Pontotoc121216
Pike120448
Monroe118265
Scott115925
Copiah115733
Coahoma111227
Holmes108558
Marshall107115
Grenada105035
Lincoln104953
Yazoo103529
Simpson100742
Union97724
Tate95037
Leake93735
Adams90936
Wayne87121
Pearl River85150
Marion83633
Prentiss80317
Covington79622
Alcorn76311
Newton75022
Itawamba74621
Tallahatchie74518
George74013
Winston72019
Tishomingo65336
Chickasaw64124
Attala64025
Tippah63716
Walthall59025
Clay56516
Hancock55720
Noxubee54015
Jasper53815
Clarke53138
Smith51814
Calhoun50612
Tunica47613
Montgomery45320
Claiborne45116
Lawrence42312
Yalobusha41514
Perry39417
Humphreys37215
Quitman3725
Stone34811
Greene33817
Webster32813
Jefferson Davis32311
Amite31110
Carroll31012
Wilkinson30117
Kemper28615
Sharkey26212
Jefferson2379
Benton2181
Franklin1873
Choctaw1775
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18772333
Mobile12975289
Montgomery8598173
Madison742275
Tuscaloosa7081114
Lee560359
Shelby557250
Baldwin503348
Marshall378442
Etowah330645
Calhoun324939
Morgan314226
Houston264422
Elmore249747
DeKalb232619
St. Clair219835
Walker219180
Talladega203426
Limestone194219
Cullman180817
Franklin173428
Dallas173226
Russell16922
Autauga166424
Lauderdale161633
Colbert158126
Escambia155424
Blount152714
Jackson148511
Chilton146327
Covington130327
Dale130043
Coffee12488
Pike11359
Tallapoosa112983
Chambers111742
Clarke104617
Marion92128
Butler90638
Barbour8247
Marengo69619
Winston68712
Lowndes64527
Pickens62814
Bibb61910
Hale61028
Randolph59112
Bullock58514
Lawrence57820
Monroe5738
Geneva5564
Cherokee54816
Washington54513
Perry5366
Clay5317
Wilcox53011
Crenshaw51931
Conecuh51711
Macon46720
Henry4594
Sumter41719
Fayette4159
Choctaw34412
Lamar3372
Cleburne3166
Greene30015
Coosa1603
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 73°
Columbus
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather