Sunday's Seattle Times carries an excellent analysis of the state pension system by reporter Drew DeSilver. The crux:
An analysis by The Seattle Times suggests that the system’s promised benefits are much bigger, and its real assets smaller, than official numbers indicate.
The analysis, using market-based data and methods, pegs the total gap between the present-day value of future benefits and assets on hand at more than $31 billion.
By that measure — one advocated by many outside experts and economists — the system’s nine major defined-benefit plans together have only about 64 cents in assets for every dollar of liabilities, rather than being 100 percent funded as the official figures indicate.
It's not a quick read, but it's worth the time. We explored many of the same issues in this 2011 policy brief, concluding,
Relying on rosy investment assumptions to keep current costs down may be setting us up for problems down the road.
It's another reason to consider moving to a defined contribution system.