Today, State Budget Solutions (SBS), a nonprofit organization advocating for fundamental reform of state budgets, released a report showing Arkansas ranking 14th overall in the amount of total state debt and 17th on a per capita basis with a total combined debt of over $25 billion.
Although Arkansas is one of only four states – including Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota – to balance their general budget, the study also factored in pension liabilities and loans in the state’s unemployment trust fund. Arkansas ranked 15th overall with pension liabilities of over $21.8 billion and 11th overall with an unemployment trust fund liability of $359 million. Arkansas also carries over $2.7 billion in other debt obligations.
Overall, Arkansas fared better than most other states where the report found that total state debt nationwide presently exceeds $4 trillion. SBS’s report showed that the states with the largest total deficits included California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, and Illinois, respectively. States that ranked among the lowest deficits included Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. Most of these states at the top and bottom of the lists were ranked in the same position in last year’s state budget deficit report.
“These deficit numbers are staggering and should be frightening to the American public. Due to budget gimmicks, many states fail to give an adequate picture of how much trouble they are really in,” said Bob Williams, President of State Budget Solutions. “This report makes it clear that if legislators don’t act immediately and decisively, our country will be facing a budget crisis that we have never seen before.”
Full report ranking can be seen here.