The new rules could hit pension plans in states like Illinois and New Jersey particularly hard, and even raise borrowing costs for certain municipalities, analysts say. “This could be the event that incites a bigger policy response than what we’ve seen so far,” says Matt Fabian, managing director at Municipal Market Advisors, a research firm.
The exact impact of the new rules by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board isn’t clear. According to researchers at Boston College, pension liabilities at 126 state and municipal pension plans would jump by roughly $600 billion, or about 18%. The estimate is based on 2010 financial data and doesn’t reflect the stock market’s recent rebound or moves by many U.S. states to rein in pension costs.