6 Key Measures of California's Fiscal Health 2017-18

Monday, January 9, 2017
6 Key Measures of CA's Fiscal Health

Senator Moorlach's Notes on Analyzing the Governor's 2017-18 Budget Proposal

1. California's Net Financial Position

California’s “net” financial position is a $169 billion deficit ($4,375 per person) according to the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

This figure should be positive for healthy organizations.  It is derived by tallying the state government’s assets (monetary funds, investments, buildings, roadways, bridges, parks, etc.) and subtracting its obligations. The last positive position California had was during Governor Pete Wilson’s final term where the state had $1.5 billion in net assets.

California is now ranked the worst state, below Illinois, whose net position is a negative $143 billion, or $11,174 per person. Illinois’ finances are so bad, they’re telling lottery winners that they have to delay their payments.

Deferred maintenance for the state’s roads and highways is some $59 billion.

2. Estimates of California Unfunded Pension Liabilities

CalPERS:                  $ 114.5 billion

CalSTRS:                  $   76.2 billion

UC Pensions (UCR):  $   12.1 billion

NOTE: For the 2015/16 fiscal year, CalPERS planned for a 7.5% rate of return, but only managed a 0.6% rate of return

A lower rate means the pension system anticipates earning less on investments and consequently will need more from employer contributions.

3. Current Unfunded Retiree Medical Liability

California has the nation’s highest unfunded retiree medical liability at $74.1 billion.

4. California's Transportation Infrastructure

  • California’s 57 cent/gallon gas taxes are the nation’s 4th highest . When cap and trade taxes are added, California has the nation’s second highest taxes behind Pennsylvania.
  • California spends 3 times the national average on maintenance per mile of roadway, yet California’s roads rate among the nation’s worst in pavement condition and congestion.
  • In the 6 years following the Great Recession, California’s gas tax revenue grew by $1.75 billion, while road spending remained stagnant (Board of Equalization Data).

5. California's Business & Economic Competitiveness

  • California has the nation’s highest income taxes. California also has the highest corporate tax in the Western United States.  According to the Tax Foundation’s 2016 Facts and Figures, California is ranked 48th overall.
  • The governor raised the minimum wage earlier this year to $15 per hour. His own estimates show that it will cost the budget $4 billion per year in additional personnel costs.
  • For the 12th year in a row, California was named the worst state for business in a survey of 500 CEOs by Chief Executive Magazine.

6. Pension Crisis is the Elephant in the Room

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