Doing the GASB Gasp

Senator John Moorlach
California State Senate, 37th District

County deficits balloon by BILLIONS after accounting for unfunded pension liabilities

The financial carnage continues as more local governments report their Fiscal Year 2015 balance sheets under the new rules, which requires them to account for defined benefit public employee pension “unfunded actuarial acrued liabilities” (UAALs).

Last week, we reported that Los Angeles County’s debt increased by over $8 billion when adding unfunded public employee pension liabilities to its balance sheet. Several more counties have reported their Fiscal Year 2015 numbers, adding themselves to the “Billion Dollar Club.”  The latest list includes:

County                     Debt
Kern                  $  1.5 billion
San Diego             1.9 billion
Riverside              1.7 billion
Sacramento          1.7 billion
Santa Clara           2.2 billion
San Francisco      1.4 billion
Contra Costa        1.0 billion

Including Los Angeles County’s $8.6 billion, and Orange County’s $3.3 billion,the total debt adjustment for just 9 of California’s 58 counties is more than $20 billion!

Beginning this year, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB; pronounced “GAZ-bee”) mandated that governments must report unfunded public employee pension liabilities on their audited balance sheets in their Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR; pronounced “CAF-er”). As more CAFRs keep rolling in and reflecting the true condition of local government balance sheets, everyone is doing the ‘GASB gasp.’

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