Public Pensions:

State and Local Government Contributions to Underfunded Plans

HEHS-96-56: Published: Mar 14, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of public pension plan funding, focusing on the basic pension plans of state and local governments.

GAO found that: (1) states and localities with underfunded pension plans run the risk of reducing future pension benefits to taxpayers or raising revenues; (2) unfunded liabilities for all state and local pension plans totalled $200 billion in 1992; (3) contributions to pension funds in 1992 fell short of the actuarially required amounts by 60 percent; (4) 75 percent of state and local pension plans involved in a Public Pension Coordinating Council (PPCC) survey were underfunded; (5) more than half of the pension plan sponsors surveyed continued to make payments to pay off their unfunded liabilities; (6) between 1990 and 1992, 20 percent of the plans were both underfunded and not receiving required sponsor contributions; and (7) of 117 plans with complete data in 1990 and 1992, 90 were underfunded.

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