San Francisco’s Retirement Spending

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

When we’re not studying state finances we read financial reports issued by cities and school districts. Recently we took a look at the City and County of San Francisco where annual cash spending on pensions and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) more than doubled from 2010 to 2019:

Unfunded liabilities more than tripled to $8.3 billion:

That was despite excellent investment returns:

Absent a reduction in unfunded liabilities, San Franciscans can expect even faster growth in pension and OPEB spending. That would mean even less money for programs and even more pressure for tax increases that don’t produce new services. That’s what happens when lawmakers make unfunded promises to special interests.

We hear some folks are planning to provide persistent support to San Francisco lawmakers who legislate in the general interest.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed that happens.


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