Fiscal Realities Facing California 

  California’s Net Financial Position 


California’s “net” unrestricted 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 unrestricted net assets. California is now ranked the worst state, below Illinois, whose net position is a negative $143 billion, or $11,174 per person.

Estimates of California Unfunded Pension Liabilities


$114.5 billion


$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 to achieve a 0.6% rate of return. Seven percent of a $400 billion liability means a shortfall of $28 billion (some 20% of Governor Brown’s general fund budget).

Current Unfunded Retiree Medical Liability

California has the nation’s highest unfunded retiree medical liability at $74.1 to $80 billion. 

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. 

California’s Business & Economic Competitiveness

California has the nation’s highest personal 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 last 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. 

Pension Crisis

Lackluster investment returns are forcing CalPERS to re-evaluate the validity of their assumptions and admit investments alone may not be enough to cover pension costs.

While many other states have pension problems, California is at crisis level.