Rhode Island Unfunded Pension Liability Rises

June 10, 2011(PLANSPONSOR.com) - According to a recent press release, the state’s unfunded pension liability rose slightly this week as state consultants recalculated the pension tab for judges and the state police.  

The new figures, revealed at a state Retirement Board meeting, added just under $20 million to the unfunded liability, the shortfall between the current value of pension credits earned by state employees and the amount of money the state has set aside to pay for them. This raises the state’s liability to $6.87 billion from the previously calculated $6.85 billion.  

In April, the board voted to change some of the variables used in the formula when calculating the unfunded liability in order to lower the amount the state expects to earn on its investments and better account for state employees living longer. Those changes prompted a recalculation of how much the state is short.  

Similar calculations before this month raised the unfunded liability for the general state employees’ pension fund to $2.70 billion and for municipal teachers who are in a state-run plan to $4.13 billion. The unfunded liabilities for the state police and judges are much smaller by comparison, $28.5 million and $10.9 million, respectively.  

The overall unfunded pension liability facing Rhode Islanders – calculated with the addition of municipal plan and retirement health care costs – exceeds $13.6 billion.  


-Sara Kelly