Pennsylvanians Heavy Laden With State Debt

A recent report from Forbes finds that Pennsylvania faces a serious challenge with state government debt. Pennsylvania ranked 35 among all states in the Forbes debt rating. According to the report, state debt per capita is $950, while unfunded liabilities are a whopping $9,825 per capita.

Yet, the Philadelphia Inquirer headline, “could be worse,” masks Pennsylvania’s debt problem by contending that “New Jersey, New York, Ohio, California, Connecticut and Massachusetts, with a one-star rating, are much worse.”

Indeed the Forbes analysis doesn’t quite tell the full story – including debt by state agencies and by local governments reveals Pennsylvanians owe almost $10,000 per person in state and local debt.  As for the pension crisis – taxpayer pension contributions for statewide plans alone are estimated to increase by over $1,300 per household in 2012-13.

This should be a wake up call to reform our borrowing schemes and pension plans, not a sign that there is more room for further debt.