The Trillion Dollar Gap: Wyoming
Underfunded State Retirement Systems and the Roads to Reform
Wyoming needs to improve how it manages its long-term liabilities for both pensions and retiree health care and other benefits. The state has funded 79 percent of its total pension bill, just below the 80 percent benchmark that the U.S. Government Accountability Office says is preferred by experts.
Because Wyoming conducts its actuarial valuations on December 31, the state's latest data reflect more of the impact of the financial crisis on pension fund investments than states with valuations on June 30. The state has been sporadic in meeting its actuarially required contributions. In 2008, the state increased benefits for firefighters and judges but also increased contributions and allocated funds to pay for the new liability. The Public Employee Plan received a cash infusion of $150.6 million in early 2009.
Meanwhile, Wyoming has relatively limited long-term liabilities for retiree health care and other benefits—$174 million—but it has yet to set aside any assets to cover that bill coming due.