Stanford Says Soaring Public Pension Costs Devastating Budgets For Education And Social Services

Tyler Durden's picture

A new study from Joe Nation of Stanford's Institute for Economic Policy Research entitled "Pension Math: Public Pension Spending and Service Crowd Out in California, 2003-2030," says that the devastating consequences of the ill-advised, Cadillac pensions doled out to America's public employees over the past several decades are only getting started. 

Looking back at taxpayer contributions to public pensions in California, Nation found that they've increased by 5 times since 2002-2003 and are very likely to double again by 2029-2030.  Not surprisingly, that kind of hyper-inflationary growth has massively outstripped increases in tax revenue, even in the great progressive state of California (shocking, we know), meaning that pension contributions now account for 11.4% of California's operating budget, up 3x from the 3.9% it consumed in 2002-2003.

For more than a decade, public pension costs have been rising sharply in California. There is contentious debate about what is driving these cost increases—significant retroactive benefit increases, unrealistic assumptions about investment earnings, operational practices that mask or delay recognition of true system costs, poor governance, 1 to name the most commonly cited. But there is agreement on one fact: public pension costs are making it harder to provide services that have traditionally been considered part of government’s core mission.


  • Employer pension contributions (i.e., pension contributions plus debt service on any Pension Obligation Bonds) from 2002-03 to 2017-18 expanded on average 400%, i.e., contributions in nominal dollars are now five times greater.
  • Employer contributions are projected to rise an additional 76% on average from 2017-18 to 2029-30 in the baseline projection and 117%, i.e., more than double, in the alternative projection.
  • Employer pension contributions from 2002-03 to 2017-18 have increased at a much faster rate than operating expenditures. As noted, pension contributions increased an average of 400%; operating expenditures grew 46%. As a result, pension contributions now consume on average 11.4% of all operating expenditures, more than three times their 3.9% share in 2002-03.
  • The pension share of operating expenditures is projected to increase further by 2029-30: to 14.0% under the baseline projection—that is, even if all system assumptions, including assumed investment rates of return, are met—or to 17.5% under the alternative projection.
  • The average employer funding amount expressed as a percent of active member payroll, i.e., the employer contribution rate,5 has increased from 17.7% in 2008-09 to 30.8% in 2017-18. By 2029-30, it reaches 35.2% under the baseline projection and 44.2% under the alternative projection.
  • On a market basis, the average funded ratio fell from 58.5% in 2008 to 43.0% in 2015. By 2029 it improves to 48.2% in the baseline projection, but falls to 39.0% in the alternative projection. The unfunded liability per jurisdiction household on an actuarial basis also rose from an average $1,682 in 2008 to $5,071 in 2015; the unfunded liability per household on a market basis is $21,491, up from $9,127 in 2008.

Here's a graphical depiction of California taxpayers getting steamrolled...

...or as a percent of total operating expenditure, if you prefer...

What's getting cut from California's budget to make room for these exorbitant pension payouts?  Well, basically everything else...

As discussed above, the pension expenditure share of the state’s operating budget increased from 2.1% in 2002-03 to 4.9% in 2008-09; it is estimated at 7.1% in 2017-18. This increasing share, despite an expanding budget, has shifted $6.0 billion in 2017-18 from other state expenditures to pensions.


Changes in state expenditures by agency and department suggest that this reduction has come primarily from social services and higher education. For example, the expenditure share for the Department of Social Services (DSS) fell from 10.7% in 2002-03 to 6.0% in 2014-15 before climbing to 7.0% in 2017-18. The higher education share of operating expenditures fell from 11.3% in 2002-03 to 9.8% in 2014-15, although it increased to 10.5% in 2017-18.


In addition, expenditure shares fell in several smaller departments from 2002-03 through 2014-15: the Department of Justice (0.4% to 0.2%), Department of Parks and Recreation (0.2% to 0.1%), and Department of Water Resources (0.2% to 0.1%).

So good luck with that whole education thing kiddos because you're grandparents are about to crush your future.

Here is the full study:

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Phillyguy's picture

Congress just approved $700 billion appropriation from US taxpayers to the Pentagon for more war and increase profits to military contractors. Why isn’t Stanford talking about this? This is complete nonsense.

gregga777's picture

Stanford is just one of the many pigs feeding at the Feral Gangster Government hog trough.

Stuck on Zero's picture

It's what governments always do ... become giant cancers on society that provide nothing ... or worse.

BuddyEffed's picture

2 of our entrenched grifts (pensions and education) each calling the other kettle black in a way here. But there's more than 2 entrenched grifts. Health care could have been easily listed as a competitor for the monies too. And there's a long list of competitors. The battle for the monies that aren't even there is heating up.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Socialist state is function until it is run out of other people's money.

GreatUncle's picture

Boris "until it is" should be "they have" the proof was in the QE pudding.

Five Star's picture

Every state's pension underfunding given realistic market values put in terms of tax revenues. Terrifying

yogibear's picture

Having to grab ever more for their cause comrade.

what happened's picture


Now the states are kidnapping children and taking control of their social security payments in order to pay salaries and pensions for the "adults".

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Other day, there is kidnapping at Boris' apartment, so Boris is wake up fat nephew stuck to couch.

Blue Steel 309's picture

I am not going to let this ride.

Stanford has one of the largest tax-free "sovereign wealth funds" in the world. Bigger than most nations

They wantonly discriminate against Whites and Asians. Yet, their achievements rest on the shoulders of whites and Asians.

Their senior faculty is dominated by Jews. Only the absolute of the top tier Asians and Whites hope to get appointments or even mentorships as undergrads, because they want to filter only those who will help them maintain their prestige, while they do nothing to deserve it themselves. It is a big fucking scheme like NCAA football, only with academics. They even moved into the sportsball scam, in the last decade or so.

They get the lions share of federal research dollars. Those research dollars go 2 places.

1) patents for themselves, but mostly to 2)
2) patents for private industry that will kick back to their sovereign wealth fun.

It is a sick racket of jew privilege and exploitation of the undeserving POCs which serve their social agenda, and the over-deserving whites and Asians who will get little to no credit. Meanwhile all the most deserving are robbed of the opportunity because of the above agendas. Anyone in academia with an open eye knows Jews are mediocre academics who get the cushiest appointments and glamorous opportunities, while doing nothing of merit to deserve them.

Pure tribalism. This led Dr. McDonald to create a 2 part book on their evolutionary psychology and a whole website on their supremacist ideology.

Stanford puts out some very awesome and serious research. But they do it on the backs of serfs.

Research and knowledge are constantly stifled under the weight of tribalism and nepotism. Not to mention fragile egos. Ivy league pisses me off in general, not because I am not accepted, but because I am very familiar with the giants of science that they have rejected. I am very familiar with the credits they claim, that they have no right to.

I am very familiar with all the favoritism and social agendas. Then they have the audacity to "march for science" and expect me to join in. They can fuck off with their political agenda. They give a shit about science. They only care for their own personal and in-group interests.

rockstone's picture

What's it to you Phil? I'm sure that study is right around the corner somewhere. Do you think academia will let that slip by? Not a chance.
So, for today anyway, this PhD decided to study this important issue. Yet, your bothered by that.


lasvegaspersona's picture

Grover Norquist was asked why the Dems did not set up weekly meetings like he successfully did for libertarian Republicans. He said: We are trying to get the government off our backs. When Democrats meet they see a huge pile of money on the table and everyone else at the table as a rival.

We will now see the amusing fight amongst the Dems as they each try to fight for the available funds...while they demand tax increases of course.

ElTerco's picture

Grover Norquist and government pensions are flip sides of the same coin, wielded by the devil. You are the loser whether you get heads or tails.

Blue Steel 309's picture

Those most suited to lead are the least likely to seek leadership positions.

Government should be elected not by choosing the best candidate, but by selecting who the candidates should be. That is, write in ballots should be the primary election. If you subscribe to democratic principles

I think systems that encourage noblesse oblige are the most stable. Our current system encourages noblesse-fuck-everyone-else-let-them-eat-cake-or-a-dick.

jbwilson24's picture

gasp. researchers can talk about whatever they wish.

The public pension system is a disaster. It is outright fleecing of taxpayers. It is worth talking about.

Mliitary expenditures are worth talking about too.

You can address BOTH situations... GASP!!!!

icedoc's picture

$700 B is hardly a good down payment on future pension spending. But so what. It's just another unfundes campaign promise from the know-nothing majority in DC

gregga777's picture

"Stanford Says Soaring Public Pension Costs Devastating Budgets For Education…"

That's great news! The government indoctrination and brainwashing centers should all be freed from Feral government financial funding and political control. Education should be under the complete oversight control and financial responsibility of non-Federal governmental and/or private entities.

VWAndy's picture

 No question about it. Give up that pension! Its for the children after all. They are our future!

DaveA's picture

They're not our children and they're not our future -- they'll be high-tailing it back to Mexico as soon as we run out of free stuff to give them.

icedoc's picture

Not our future but likely the future of the nation formerly known as the USA. White man has no place in the future.

GreatUncle's picture

Standard government ploy is to use "children" to manipulate your mind.

Your internet censorship because ... do it for the children.

Nothing to do with them attempting to hide what they have been doing.

Muppet's picture

Forgotten words: Fiscal discipline and management by those concerned beyond their own term.

Not difficult.  Just less practiced... except in my house and biz.

VWAndy's picture

 Hey here is an idea. Do the math yourself next time suckers!

HRH Feant2's picture

Maff be hard to do.

Especially when union bosses are doing that Mafia maff!

chilller's picture

Couldn't be happening to a nicer group of socialists Engineers. You made the bed now squirm in it!

chrsn's picture

"The pig trough known as public employee defined benefit plans is going to have a negative impact on OUR pig trough of student loans!"

s2man's picture


And you can quote me.

navy62802's picture

Shocker. You can already see it materializing. What will we sacrifice first? Your pension or those social welfare projects? I'll give you a hint ... it ain't the social welfare projects. You gave 20 years of faithful government service? Yeah? Well fuck you!

DaveA's picture

It's a question of who's going to riot if their benefits get cut. Picture a pensioner throwing a Molotov cocktail then trying to hobble away on his walker before the heat of the flames melts his artificial hip joint. (stole that one from Mark Steyn)

True Blue's picture

"faithful government service"? Are you kidding? Try "lifetime sucking the taxpayer's bleeding nipples while not adding one productive erg to the economy you so blithely drain" instead.

Screw 'em all.

HRH Feant2's picture

Rome fell. Why? Excessive taxation. When everyone was promised bread and circuses and the state couldn't deliver people slunk away. In the end paying tax collectors a bribe for collecting taxes failed. Landowners walked away from property that ensured only one thing: starvation.

The state needs to be very careful about killing the middle class. We are the goose that lays a golden egg every single day. Until we stop going to work. Or shut down our businesses and lay low.

Who is John Galt?

VWAndy's picture

 I hope the last stop for the gravytrain is Bartertown. Really would be rather fitting?

HRH Feant2's picture

LBJ and the Great Society program completely fucked up this country.

Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to pay women to breed like rats? To not be married?

Oh yes, once the EBT payments those free $hitters will end up in barter town. They will learn how to work or they will starve. Matt Bracken wrote about that shitshow and how it will go down one EBT and SNAP payments fail:

Yes, I would consider it fitting. I have more than one family member I expect to show up once SHTF. I have one rule: no work, no food and no shelter. If shelter is the shed out back, too bad. Fix it and make it a better shed.

kumquatsunite's picture

Everyone should be required to watch Judge Judy every single day. Yesterday, a 40-year-old woman (looked 60-plus) with 4 children Said she was living on her "disability" plus what she gets for the children. If you are hearing Any Less about welfare it is because it has been shifted to "disability." Big chance her kids are classified as "disabled" and she would receive money for each of them (around $600 per kid per month) PLUS she can get paid $1400 per month for being the "Caretaker." 

This is Your New Hidden Welfare. Add to that food stamps, free medical, that the electric company has funds to pay for the so-called low income, the free phones, hell. No need to act decent in society when you have everything given to you. Don't need to be polite, or dust off your hat and close your mouth.

END all welfare. It is child abuse. This woman should not have any children. She could barely hold herself up, lowlife is breeding on your dime.

rrrr's picture

I used to work for the welfare department. Welfare is theft.

GreatUncle's picture

In the current state of the economty and realised it when this all started after 2008.

Because the bad debt was not flushed and left in the economy the banks have been trying to transfer that into the economy this way also.

You start up a company, the banks will look to maximise their extraction in a ZIRP world effectively destroying any start up to save themself.

The rules of how a person must startup change.



Dun_Dulind's picture

Dear Fuckingfornia, you faggots can't have your cake and eat it too.

_triplesix_'s picture

Unless, of course, that cake is shaped like a phallus.

fockewulf190's picture

Didn't need a study from Stanford to point out the obvious.

Thugocracy's picture

The one-party State will figure out how it's the other guy's fault.

smallbedbug's picture

I do not care about be it..

HRH Feant2's picture

Same here. Every town I have lived in, in the US, has a free public library. It is the one tax I don't complain about. is free.

I just signed up for a free course on theology from Hillsdale College. Free. Here is the link: https://online.hillsdale.edulink

That is the future.

People that do not want to learn will remain ignorant. Those that thirst for knowledge will learn.

TheEndIsNear's picture

Server not found
Web Browser can't find the server at online.hillsdale.edulink

directaction's picture

Why can’t these leeches save for retirement like the rest of us?

Pollygotacracker's picture

Public employees always insist that they are paid less than private sector for comparable work. Not sure how they figure that. They never seem to get laid off, so that should be factored in as well.