Mercatus Ranks States Fiscal Condition

The Mercatus Center just sent out an email announcing:

The 2016 edition of “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition” is now available, providing the most comprehensive snapshot to date of the financial health of all 50 states and Puerto Rico. What’s the big news from the latest numbers? Puerto Rico is in trouble, and so are many states if they don’t address their short- and long-term obligations. The rankings reflect the past, present, and future of each state, beyond what one individual politician can control. They serve as an early warning sign for policymakers, journalists, and the public before fiscal issues become bigger problems.

Data was taken from 2014 CAFRs and the Mercatus people were good enough to provide excel spreadsheets that included unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities along with regular state debt.  Totaling those into spreadsheets shows that indeed there are states with higher per-capita long-term debt burdens than Puerto Rico (and Illinois is not one of them).

Here is the spreadsheet and a sorted listing of the worst state:

2 responses to this post.

  1. Couple of points. NY State’s pension system is relatively well funded, but New York City’s is as bad off as New Jersey. And are they including the MTA debt, and a share of the Port Authority debt? Focusing on state government underestimates how bad off NY is.

    Also the debt is per capita not as a percent of income. Lower income Rhode Island is the worst off state of all.


  2. Posted by george on June 3, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Since past pension crisis were said to be solved by defaulting on debt, for example Detroit, California municipalities, Puerto Rico, why not New Jersey? Tax increases and salary cuts were also in the mix. I think tiny communities like Pritchard Al and Central Falls RI also cut pensions.


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