California Has $166 Billion Unfunded Liability for Retiree Benefits, but is Getting Ready to Fund More Health Care for Illegal Aliens

According to a new study by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), California faces a staggering $166.5 billion in unfunded liabilities for retirement benefits it has promised to government employees. So naturally, California being California, the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom are moving ahead with plans to shower illegal aliens with still more expensive benefits.

The state has recently made illegal aliens under the age of 26 eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, and plans to expand coverage to illegal aliens over the age of 65 – in other words the age cohort most likely to require expensive health care. But, even if that happens, California’s political leadership has no plans to stop there. Their ultimate goal is Medi-Cal eligibility for every illegal alien in the state.

Admittedly, the cost of covering illegal aliens under the Medi-Cal program pales in comparison to the $166.5 billion potentially owed to state retirees. But California doesn’t actually have the money to do either.

One could legitimately argue that past governors and legislatures were reckless in their dealings with government employee unions. These unfunded liabilities are the chickens coming home to roost for past policies that bought short-term labor peace by kicking the can down the road in the form of lavish retirement benefits for workers. But a contract is a contract, even if the officials representing the interests of the people of California in negotiations with government employee unions were fiscally profligate.

Nobody made a contract with illegal aliens. The decision to fund, or not fund, a whole range of benefits to illegal aliens (beyond K-12 education and emergency services), is completely discretionary. Not only does the California Legislature have the discretionary authority not to entitle a single new illegal alien to Medi-Cal coverage, it has complete discretion to rescind that entitlement to illegal aliens who are already benefiting.

When you owe people $166 billion that you don’t have, it would seem logical and prudent not to incur any new unnecessary expenditures, especially in order to provide benefits to people who have no legal claim to even be in the country. In fact, it would be perfectly sensible to end existing discretionary benefits to illegal aliens. But, hey, this is California we’re talking about – where both logic and good sense seem to be in short supply.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.

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