If you’re a homeowner, you probably have a 30-year mortgage. Your mortgage allows you to own your home without fully funding the purchase. If, for example, you have a $300,000 home with a $150,000 mortgage, it might be said that your homeownership is at a 50 percent funded ratio. That’s not reckless; it’s prudent use of debt.
Some people speculate that future investment returns will be lower than past returns, requiring higher contributions from workers and taxpayers to sustain pension funds. In truth, no one knows.
The prudent course is to review returns each year and make gradual course corrections, as needed. That’s why independent auditors regularly evaluate and advise public pension funds on necessary course corrections.
So when you hear concerns about public pensions being underfunded, understand that ensuring 100 percent funding isn’t critical to the healthy functioning of a public pension system, and it can be very expensive.