No matter how you look at it, paying off California’s $340 billion of debt wouldn’t be easy. You’d have to spend the state’s entire general fund budget for three and a half years. Or you’d need 75 years of the current projected state budget surplus. Or, you’d have to charge every Californian $8,500.
“It can sound like a very wonky accounting sort of thing,” says Ryan Miller of the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, with the understatement of the week. His report says Governor Jerry Brown and state lawmakers should quit procrastinating now that the economy has improved – and start paying that money back.
“These liabilities have a real effect on the amount of funds that are available for other programs in the budget, like Medi-Cal and like other health and human services programs. So it’s in the state’s interest to begin paying these down in a cost-effective manner,” Miller says - starting with the California State Teachers Retirement System, which could cost an extra $5 billion a year.