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November 17, 2011

Indiana scores well in ranking of state’s debt

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s state government is carrying the country’s third-lowest amount of debt per capita, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The state has $5,970 for each of its 6.5 million residents — significantly less than the national average of $13,754 — said State Budget Solutions, a nonpartisan think tank that aligns with conservative organizations and describes itself as “pro-reform.”

In all, Indiana state government is carrying roughly $38.7 billion in debt, according to the report. That number includes not only bonds issued for projects but also loans taken by the state’s unemployment trust fund and future, underfunded pension liabilities.

The study also ranked states on their debt relative to the private sector labor force and private sector output. Indiana ranked among the top five states in those categories as well.

“When state debt is broken down by various measures of size, population, number of private sector workers and output, it reveals the actual financial burden on each person,” said Bob Williams, president of State Budget Solutions, in a statement. “Everyone deserves to know how much their share of the state debt is and what their government is doing to remedy this growing crisis.”

The analysis found that several states ranked among the bottom in multiple categories, meaning they scored the worst. Those states included Alaska, New Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut, New Mexico, and Illinois.

Alaska had the nation’s highest per-capita debt at $39,373 per person.

Nebraska ranked first in all the three debt categories, meaning it was carrying the least relative debt. State Budget Solutions found it had debt of just $4,274 per resident.

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