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"State pension plans represented slightly more than half of this shortfall, with $2.28 trillion stowed away to cover $2.94 trillion in long-term liabilities—leaving about a $660 billion gap, according to an analysis by the Pew Center on the States. Retiree health care and other benefits accounted for the remaining $604 billion, with assets totaling $31 billion to pay for $635 billion in liabilities."
The $1.26 trillion figure is based on states’ own actuarial assumptions. Most states use an 8 percent discount rate—the investment target that states expect to earn, on average, in future years. But there is significant debate among policy makers and experts about what discount rate is most appropriate for states to use when valuing pension liabilities. This is an important issue because, depending on how those liabilities are calculated, states’ total funding shortfall for their long-term pension obligations to public sector retirees could be as much as $1.8 trillion (using assumptions similar to corporate pensions) or $2.4 trillion (using a discount rate based on a 30-year Treasury bond). How states value long-term liabilities going forward will play an important role in defining the scale of their challenges and the actions they will have to take to meet them,