by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A new report from State Budget Solutions ranks North Carolina No. 2 among the 50 states — trailing only Wisconsin — in terms of the percentage of its state pension fund obligations that are funded. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that little over half (54 percent) of North Carolina’s obligations are funded now. Top-ranked Wisconsin has funded 57 percent of its obligations, while the only other states that meet the 50 percent threshold are South Dakota (52 percent) and Tennessee (50 percent). The state average is 39 percent, and Illnois (24 percent) and Connecticut (25 percent) have accounted for just one out of every 4 dollars promised for state workers’ retirement. The overall unfunded liability for the 50 states is $4.1 trillion, according to the report.
Another piece of relatively good news: North Carolina has the third-lowest per person unfunded liability at $6,874 per person. Only Tennessee and Indiana fare better, while the per person figure tops $20,000 in five states.
These numbers will come as no surprise to those who remember John Hood’s warning in a 2011 National Affairs article about “gaping holes” in states’ budgets.