State ranks very poorly on fiscal health – San Bernardino Sun
Taxpayer watchdog group Truth in Accounting released its twelfth annual assessment of the fiscal health of the nation’s 50 states. Nationally, they discovered that 39 states did not have enough money to pay their bills. At the end of fiscal 2020, the state debt nationwide stood at $ 1.5 trillion.
Going state by state, Alaska had a “taxpayer surplus” of $ 55,100 per taxpayer when assessing state cash versus bonds. North Dakota had $ 39,200. This positive situation was not limited to the “red states”. Oregon and Minnesota had a “tax surplus” of $ 1,000 and $ 200, respectively.
Unfortunately, California found itself in the red, with a “tax burden” of $ 21,100 in bonds per taxpayer. The only comfort one can find is that California is not as badly off as Illinois, New Jersey or Connecticut, which have a net “tax burden” of $ 57,000, $ 58,300 respectively. and $ 62,500 per taxpayer.
The asterisk on California’s rating is that, according to Truth in Accounting, California was “behind in its annual financial report,” failing to release its FY2020 financial report on time, so California report is based on 2019 numbers.
“California is extremely late with its annual financial report for the second year in a row,” the group reports. “Typically, the standard for meeting deadlines is 180 days after year-end, as set by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). “
At the time of the report, California was over 400 days behind in releasing its financial report. While one might be tempted to excuse this by pointing the finger at the pandemic, California is one of the few states to be so late. California taxpayers deserve better transparency than that provided by the state government.
This is especially true given the vast obligations assumed by the state – nearly $ 400 billion, according to Truth in Accounting, including more than $ 200 billion in unfunded pension obligations.
As Teri Sforza of the Southern California News Group recently reported, that figure may underestimate the extent of California’s debt problem.
“Experts at Stanford University include local government retirement debt and conclude that total debt is much higher, at $ 352.5 billion at best ($ 27,187 per household) and over. Worst-case $ 1,000 billion ($ 81,634 per household), ”Sforza reported.
Of course, politicians and bureaucrats love to brag about year after year budget surpluses.
“This ‘surplus’ – this is the equivalent to me of saying that my checking account balance at the end of the year is higher than my checking account balance at the start of the year, and completely ignore my credit card debt, ”said Sheila Weinberg, director of accounting truth, according to Sforza.
Pension costs continue to rise statewide, crowding out funding that should be spent on services that taxpayers think they are paying for. But with Democratic politicians, and even many Republican politicians, effectively in the pockets of public sector unions, nothing is being done to address the problem. The costs are simply wiped out for the next generation to manage.
As long as Californians, regardless of their political affiliation, don’t demand that politicians be fiscally responsible or even just transparent, this trend will only continue.