State Retiree Benefits Fact Sheet – Utah

  • December 18, 2007
Utah is a national leader in managing the bill coming due for its long-term public sector pension promises. The state has an excellent record of making its full annual required contributions to its pension systems, which have stayed at a very healthy funding level during the past 10 years. On the non-pensions side, Utah was aware of its long-term liabilities for retiree health benefits long before most states. It has set up an irrevocable trust for its payments, and while it had not set aside any funds for its non-pension benefits as of 2006, it is moving on a path toward fully funding that obligation—the state appropriated its full amount of about $47 million for both 2007 and 2008. If Utah consistently and fully funds its non-pension obligations, the long-term bill for state employees will drop from $749 million to $488 million. This is because the interest the state is likely to earn when it invests more money over the long term can be applied to paying down the bill. Utah also is pulling back substantially on its retiree health benefits, a move the Utah Public Employees Association has fought.