by Cory Eucalitto
State Budget Solutions
January 22, 2014
State Budget Solutions’ (SBS) fourth annual State Debt Study reveals that state governments face a combined $5.1 trillion in debt. This total equals roughly $16,178 per capita, or 33 percent of annual gross state product. Another telling way to view the problem – state debt is equal to 469% of all fiscal year state general and other fund expenditures. Since 2010, SBS has conducted a comprehensive examination of state government debt. These reports have repeatedly found trillions in combined debt that stand in stark contrast to officials’ proclamations of balanced budgets and belt-tightening. This year’s update, and past reports, show unfunded public pension liabilities’ incredible contribution to state debt. These liabilities make up 79 percent of all state debt. SBS’ unique, comprehensive approach to calculating state debt includes market-valued unfunded public pension liabilities, outstanding government debt, unfunded other post employment benefit liabilities, and outstanding unemployment trust fund loans.

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