The Uneven, but Immense, State Budget Problems

So much time is spent worrying, debating, complaining about, and trying to devise solutions to the federal government's deficit problems that you can almost forget that some states' budgets are in disastrous shape as well. Luckily, the Associated Press has stepped in to provide an analysis detailing that all lawmakers -- whether working at the federal or state level -- have a very high aptitude for budget bumbling. Here are a couple of highlights from its findings:

  • 12 states started the year with deficits that were equal to 15 percent or more of their general fund, a state's main checkbook for paying day-to-day operations.
  • States with the highest per capita number of Medicaid recipients were among those with the largest budget deficits, as a percentage of general fund revenue.
  • All 50 states have a combined $689.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $418 billion in retiree health care obligations. Five states have unfunded public employee pension liabilities of $50 billion or more.

The American addiction to debt runs deep. It extends beyond mortgages, credit cards, and Congress -- state and local governments have also overindulged.

Read the full story at the Associated Press.