For Whom the California Budget Tolls

Journalists and elected officials occasionally make the mistake of viewing budget problems in terms of size rather than where the budget item falls. For example, the costs of unfunded pensions and retiree healthcare in the current fiscal year (FYE16–17) add up to 6% of the state’s General Fund, a much smaller share than retirement spending in, say, Los Angeles where retirement spending consumes 20% of the local budget. But all the consequences of that 6% fall on a small portion of the General Fund.