10 Worst-Off State Pension Funds
Despite concerns that New Hampshire's public pension system is underfunded by nearly $4 billion, officials and unions are at odds over solutions.
A fierce political battle is under way as that state's legislature seeks to move away from the traditional pension system to a defined-contribution plan similar to the 401(k) plans millions of Americans have moved toward over the past few decades.
Union officials have argued that administrative costs for new plans would actually add more than $1 billion in costs; proponents have countered with calculations of their own showing $2 billion in savings over the next decade.
The good news: The libertarian Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, issued research in February that found West Virginia was the state that most improved its actuarial funding ratio for state pensions.
In 2001, the state's nine pension plans were 45.1% funded, earning its rank of 50th. By 2009, the funding ratio improved to 50.3%.
The bad news: That still leaves the state with a $5 billion funding gap and some of the most inadequately funded plans in the nation.
According to the Pew Center on the States, a nonprofit division of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Kentucky's six pension systems had a combined funding level of 63.8% last year. Unfunded liabilities for pensions and health care benefits are at about 31%.