True Colorado Taxpayer Burden is $8.1 Billion

From the Institute for Truth in Accounting

Colorado’s “Financial State of the State”

Chicago (November 16, 2010) — Today, the Institute for Truth in Accounting released Colorado’s “Financial State of the State.” After an intensive review of the state’s 2009 audited financial report, the Institute determined the state is in a precarious financial position because it does not have the funds available to pay more than $8.1 billion of the state’s commitments as they come due. Each taxpayer’s share of this financial burden equals $4,900.

Colorado law requires a balanced state budget. “If governors and legislatures had truly balanced the state’s budget, no taxpayer’s financial burden would exist,” said Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of the Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA). She continued, “A state budget is not balanced if past costs, including those for employees’ retirement benefits, are pushed into the future.” While Colorado reported total assets of more than $35 billion, the Institute’s detailed review of the state’s 2009 financial report revealed that there are $7.5 billion of off-balance sheet retirement liabilities. The Institute also determined that more than $23 billion of the state’s assets cannot be easily converted to cash to pay state bills as they come due. These assets consist of capital assets, including infrastructure, buildings and land, and assets that are restricted by law or contract. This means the state does not have the funds needed to pay for more than $8.1 billion of state obligations.

These obligations include unfunded liabilities related to state employees’ and teachers’ retirement benefits. Years of over-promising retirement benefits, while shortchanging funding, have resulted in the state’s retirement systems being underfunded by $7.5 billion. This underfunding has been exasperated by the recent drastic decline in the market value of retirement plans’ assets. As of June 30, 2009, the state had set aside only 65 cents to pay for each dollar of benefits promised. As of that date only $13.7 billion was deposited into the retirement systems, even though the actuaries calculated that a minimum of $21.2 billion should have already been contributed.

The Colorado “Financial State of the State”, available at www.TruthInAccounting.org and Colorado.StateBudgetWatch.org, outlines the financial situation of the state, including unfunded liabilities to the state’s retirement systems.

About the Institute for Truth in Accounting

The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) is dedicated to promoting honest, accurate, and transparent accounting at all levels of government and business. As a non-partisan, non-profit organization, the IFTA works to expose accounting deficiencies while promoting better, more accessible delivery of accurate government financial data–and, in turn, providing a foundation for more informed public policy. The IFTA provides its expertise to develop more effective accounting standards and deliver accurate government financial information to policymakers, opinion leaders, and citizens, so they can all work for a more secure financial future. To learn more, please visit our website at www.TruthInAccounting.org.

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