2 scary charts about state, local debt
Back in 1995, the U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) estimated state and local unfunded pension liabilities at $200 billion in fiscal year 1992 (nearly $300 billion in today’s dollars). The most recent estimate for unfunded liabilities today for these same entities comes from The States Project, a joint venture of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. Their report puts the number at $3.4 trillion, plus $1.2 trillion in health care promises to government workers in retirement which haven’t been funded. On top of this is the growth in state bonded debt.
That debt has also soared in recent years, as the chart below shows. One result is that The State Project puts total state and local liabilities now at a whopping $7.3 trillion. It is startling how fast our states, cities, counties, towns and school districts have been accumulating debt.