California’s ‘wall of debt’ only a slice of its liability problem

Categories: California Developments
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San Jose Mercury News by Jessica Calefati,  January 26, 2014

Gov. Jerry Brown’s image as a responsible, penny-pinching steward of California’s finances has been cemented in recent weeks because of his renewed call to pay off California’s “wall of debt.”

That’s a term Brown coined when he took office to describe the tens of billions of dollars California owed to public schools and special funds whose coffers were raided to help balance budgets in the past.

But look behind that $24.9 billion wall and you’ll see a $330 billion skyline of other liabilities threatening the state’s financial health. It includes $80 billion needed to cover teachers’ pensions and $64 billion to pay for state workers’ health care in retirement — two particularly troublesome liabilities because the state isn’t even making the minimum payments on them.

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