A sign stands in front of California Public Employees' Retirement System building July 21, 2009 in Sacramento, California. CalPERS, the state's public employees retirement fund, reported a loss of 23.4%, its largest annual loss. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)
The state's pension contribution for the next fiscal year will be about $170 million less than originally estimated, according to reports.
This isn't particularly big news, since pension contributions are a small (though not insignificant) part of the budget -- $3.5 billion out of roughly $90 billion. The concern about pensions is really a concern about the future; that the promises made by the state and local governments today will require much more sizable contributions in the future.
So the good news is the reason for the drop in the expected pension contribution: employees are themselves contributing more to their own pensions under new contracts with the state. The unanswered question is whether employees -- and their employers, California's governments -- are contributing enough money today to pay tomorrow's pensions.