State Pension Data

Without the requirement to file 5500 forms for public pension plans it is difficult to get a clear overall picture of the status of these plans.  You would need to review each of the public plan actuarial reports and pull off pertinent data.  NASRA does it and now, starting with the state reports, so will we*.

Links to the websites where the reports can be accessed are here.

PDFs of the reports from which the data was taken are here.

The master spreadsheet of pertinent data here.

The next few blogs will examine in detail the data and the manipulations (looking at you, Wisconsin) that make the numbers appear rosier (if a trillion dollar deficit were ever rosy) than honest valuations would so as not to scare the children.  But, for now, a summary in 5500 format:

Number of Plans: 154

Total participants: 22,099,755 including:

  • Retirees: 7,701,486
  • Separated but entitled to benefits: 2,936,628
  • Still working: 11,411,521
  • DROP: 50,130

Prior Year Asset Value (Market): $2,625,993,042,866

   Gov’t Contributions: $94,289,259,198

   Participant Contributions: $29,280,381,410

   Payouts: $205,396,115,359

   Expenses: $2,264,550,445

Latest Asset Value (Market): $2,747,889,141,368

Latest (ridiculously understated) Value of  Liabilities: $3,716,722,967,978

Official Unfunded Liabilities: $968,833,826,610

Official Funded Percentage: 73.93%




*  We, in this case being me doing the directing and interpreting and summer help (also known as my nephews Patrick and Paul) who did a diligent job compiling and putting the data into the spreadsheet. More interpreting of this data to come and, depending on circumstances, big city plan data next.

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dentss dunnigan on July 31, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Interesting …if you don’t watch closely the three card monty dealer will confuse you every time ..


    • Posted by Anonymous on July 31, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      I know it’s easy to say and harder to do but it would be useful and interesting to include ALL Federal pensions as well! So taxpayers at ALL level of government know what they’re getting for their money – even if it’s just printing cost LOL!


  2. Posted by George on August 2, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    If I understand things right, the state is depositing 23.5% more from the common fund into the pension scheme than last year.

    6,035 / 4,885 = 1.2354 or 23.5%

    May 2016 report, last page. $ 6,035,000,000.00

    Click to access MayInvestingReport2016.pdf

    May 2015 report, last page. $ 4,885,000,000.00

    Click to access May2015.pdf

    The extra $1.2 billion might be why they need to raise the gas tax. I am not 100% sure I understand the report. And am still looking for what they pay out month to month. Which raises the question of what tax they are going to raise next year?

    After raising property taxes to pay the pension scheme multiple times, with atleast one more in the works, Chicago is sending raiding parties elsewhere.

    Emanuel eyes utility tax increase to save largest pension fund


    • Posted by dentss dunnigan on August 2, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      My question has always been …how are going to pay for the constitutional amendment that forces payment on the taxpayers …can’t take it from the income tax or sales tax ….what tax will they raise …? I don’t even understand how they could put that on the ballot without letting the taxpayer know ?


    • Posted by boscoe on August 2, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      The common funds are simply pooled assets of the various State-administered retirement systems (e.g. PERS, TPAF, PFRS, etc.) for purposes of joint investment. The individual pension funds do not handle their own investments. Common Pension Fund A invests primarily in domestic equities. Common Fund B in domestic fixed income securities. Common Fund D in international equity and fixed income securities. Common Fund E in “alternative investments, which include private equity, real estate, real asset and absolute strategy funds.” (There is no Common Fund C.) There is also a cash management fund. This information is included in the financial statements of the New Jersey Division of Investment, part of the Treasury Department. The transfers you refer to are accounting transactions that are dependent on how much of the Common Funds are credited to each retirement system, and the particulars of sales and purchases at any given time.


      • Posted by George on August 3, 2016 at 9:24 am

        Are the common fund the payments by the taxpayer into the pension scheme? Where do the common funds come from? I do see some entries in some reports where money shifts from one pension to another through the common fund.


        • Posted by boscoe on August 3, 2016 at 8:42 pm

          Maybe an example or two will help. Both employees and employers contribute to the employee’s pension fund (retirement system). So the teachers in a local school district will have payroll deductions taken from their paychecks which are credited to the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund. The school district (the teachers’ employer) transfers monies (the employer’s contributions, what you call “payments by the taxpayer”) into the TPAF at the percentage of payroll that has been certified by the retirement system. For state employees, it’s more or less the same, except that the State of New Jersey makes the employer’s contributions and the monies go to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) if that’s the pension fund the employee is enrolled in.

          As I indicated earlier, the various pension funds do not invest on their own. Their assets are pooled and invested by the NJ Division of Investment in the Department of the Treasury. The Division of Investment has created so-called common funds (see my earlier comment) to invest in different types of securities and other obligations. The returns on those investments are credited back to each pension fund based on the proportion deposited by each pension fund. It’s an oversimplification, but you might think of the four common funds as mutual funds, with each of the pension funds owning “shares” in the common fund. So the answers to your questions are: (1) the common funds are the means by which the assets of the various pension funds are commingled for investment purposes; and (2) the common funds include both employee contributions (payroll deductions) and tax dollars received by the employer. In the case of a school district or a municipality, those tax dollars are almost all derived from property taxes. In the case of the State of New Jersey, they are income taxes, sales taxes, business taxes, various fees, etc.

          I’m not sure what you are referencing when you say that you’ve noticed that “money shifts from one pension to another through the common fund.”


  3. Posted by Anonymous on August 2, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    If everyone (unions & their members, politicians, taxpayers) was really interested in making it work there would be measurable reforms and a dedicated tax (sales, whatever) all as one constitutional amendment. Measurable is not definable nor ever agreeable!


  4. […] get an idea we begin our review of actuarial reports of major city plans (as we did for 154 state plans) with Chicago where their actuarial reports depict the  situation […]


  5. […] their State Pension Funding Gap brief for 2014 and after combing their numbers a spreadsheet with ours here is how they […]


  6. Posted by anon on August 31, 2016 at 9:26 am

    What’s up with Wisconsin?


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