Pennsylvania Government Debt

MARCH 21, 2012 | Policy Points by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION

Today, Pennsylvanians owe $121 billion in state and local government debt.  This equates to more than $9,400 for every person, and almost $38,000 for the average family of four in the commonwealth—an increase of $10,300 since 2002.

  • This total represents debt in the form of government bonds, but excludes unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities for government workers, borrowing for unemployment compensation, and short-term tax anticipation notes, which add tens of billions more in obligations for Pennsylvania taxpayers.
Pennsylvania State & Local Government Debt
Debtor Debt Outstanding Per Person
Total State $45,020,310,000 $3,533
   State $10,356,710,000 $813
   State Agencies & Authorities $34,663,600,000 $2,720
Total Local $75,759,706,000 $5,945
   School Districts $26,618,928,378 $2,089
   County/Municipal/Twp/Other $49,140,777,622 $3,856
Total  $120,780,016,000 $9,478
Sources: Governor's Executive Budget (http://www.budget.state.pa.us) December 2011 data; PA Dept of Education (http://www.pde.state.pa.us) June 2010 data; U.S. Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/govs/www/estimate.html) 2009 data

State Debt

Since 2002, total outstanding state general obligation debt increased 54%, from $6.8 billion to $10.3 billion.

  • Annual debt payments on general obligation bonds increased from $349 million in FY 2002-03 to $1.1 billion in the proposed FY 2012-13 budget, an increase of 198% in annual debt payments in nine years.

State Agencies' & Authorities' Debt

More than three-fourths of Pennsylvania's state-level borrowing is done by off-budget state agencies and authorities, like the Turnpike Commission and the Commonwealth Financing Authority, which issue their own debt to the extent authorized by the legislature.

  • Debt held by state agencies and authorities increased from $16.8 billion in 2002 to nearly $34.7 billion in 2011—an increase of 106%.
  • Total Pennsylvania state and state agencies' and authorities' debt increased from $23.7 billion to more than $45 billion in the last nine years—representing a total state-level increase of 90%.
Pennsylvania State, State Agencies' & Authorities' Debt
Debtor Debt Outstanding 2002 Debt Outstanding 2011 Increase Change
State $6,805,184,000 $10,356,710,000 $3,551,526,000 52%
State Agencies & Authorities $16,848,800,000 $34,663,600,000 $17,814,800,000 106%
Total State $23,653,984,000 $45,020,310,000 $21,366,326,000 90%
Sources: Governor's Executive Budget (http://www.budget.state.pa.us) December 2011 data

School District Debt

Pennsylvania taxpayers are also experiencing an increase in debt at the school district level. 

  • According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, school district debt increased from $19.4 billion in 2002 to $26.6 billion in 2010—an increase of 38%.

County, Municipal, Township, & Special District Debt

Other local government debt—debt held by counties, cities, townships, boroughs, and special districts—represents more than 40% of all taxpayer debt in the Commonwealth.

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau's most recent data (2009), county, municipal, township, and special district debt increased from $45 billion in 2002 to $49 billion in 2009—an increase of 9%.
Pennsylvania School District, County, Municipal, Township, Special District Debt
Debtor Debt Outstanding 2002 Debt Outstanding 2010 Increase Change
School Districts $19,351,014,152 $26,618,928,378 $7,267,914,226 38%
County/Municipal/Twp/Other $44,943,251,000 $49,140,777,622 $4,197,526,622 9%
Total Local $64,294,265,152 $75,759,706,000 $11,465,440,848 18%
Sources: PA Dept of Education (http://www.pde.state.pa.us) June 2010 data; U.S. Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/govs/www/estimate.html) 2009 data

# # #

For more information on the Pennsylvania State Budget, visit www.CommonwealthFoundation.org/Budget.

PDF Version To download the full PDF version, please



comments powered by Disqus

Media contact:
media@commonwealthfoundation.org

(O) 717-671-1901

Who are We?

The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank.  The Commonwealth Foundation crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.


Should taxpayer resources be used to collect a private entities' dues and political money?

SAT Scores Slip While Spending Soars

April 16

Pennsylvania education spending is at at all-time high and ranks near the top in dollars spent per student among the states. But all of that extra spending isn't helping kids succeed. In fact, SAT scores have declined while spending has soared. According to a new Cato Institute analysis, Pennsylvania ...