Hawaii takes small steps on $20B retiree liability - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii takes small steps on $20B retiree liability

By CATHY BUSSEWITZ
Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii is taking small steps toward paying off its massive unfunded liability for retiree pensions and health benefits.

Actuaries say the state has $8.6 billion less than it should to pay its pension obligations to current and future retirees.

But its preparation to pay retiree health care benefits is even worse. Right now, the state has just 2 percent of its projected retiree health care expenses set aside. Its shortfall for retiree health benefits stands at $11.2 billion. By contrast, the state's pension plan is 61 percent funded, and that's considered low.

The state is ramping up to pay $500 million a year to fully fund those benefits.

Outgoing finance director Kalbert Young says the state has made progress. But he calls that progress two steps in a thousand-mile journey.

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