Commentary

Truth in Accounting: The 2013 Financial State of States

Truth in Accounting’s most recent comprehensive review of state finances reveals $1.2 trillion in total state debt that is not backed by available assets, and $1.1 trillion in total unfunded pension liabilities. It should be noted that of the $1.1 trillion in unfunded liabilities, more than $993 billion are off-balance sheet due to outdated accounting standards.

Among the 50 states reviewed, 41 have financial holes imposing “Taxpayer Burden” on current and future taxpayers, despite balanced budget requirements in 49 states. The state with the highest Taxpayer Burden is Connecticut with $48,100 in the burden, followed by Illinois – $43,400, New Jersey – $36,000, Massachusetts – $28,000, and Hawaii – $27,000. “Taxpayer Burden” here means the amount of money each taxpayer would have to send to their state to eliminate its current financial hole. On the bright side, the top five states for “Taxpayer Surplus” are Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and South Dakota. These states have assets available to pay their bills.


To read the report, go here.

Truong Bui is a policy analyst at Reason Foundation, where he works on the Pension Integrity Project.