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Report: Mississippi taxpayers owe $11,300 apiece to cover the state's debts

BIG BILL: State policymakers have added plenty of debt to the state's ledger. Photo illustration by Steve Wilson

A report released Tuesday by the non-partisan financial advocacy group Truth in Accounting says that Mississippi taxpayers would owe $11,300 apiece to cover the state's debts.

According to the report, the state has only $5.7 billion of assets available to pay its bills, which total $14 billion. Mississippi was called a sinkhole state and its financial position was 33rd worst nationally.

Mississippians would face what Truth in Accounting calls a taxpayer burden, which is the amount owed by taxpayer is the amount each would have to contribute if the state were to pay off all of its debts.

Mississippi has $5.8 billion in debt from bonds and $4.2 billion in other liabilities. Another big chunk of the state's debt is $5.8 billion in uncovered benefits for the state's direct benefit pension system, the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi PERS. The state also owes $784 million in unfunded health care costs for retirees.

Truth in Accounting uses the comprehensive financial reports of the states from fiscal 2017 to compile its rankings. TIA found the states owe $1.5 trillion in unfunded debt, with $837.5 billion from unfunded pension liabilities.

New Jersey was the state listed as being in the worst financial position, as its taxpayers would need to find $61,400 in their seat cushions to cover all of the state's debts.

Forty states don't have enough assets to pay off their bills, according to the report. Among the top sinkhole states, Connecticut taxpayers would owe $53,400 to cover the state's debts, while Illinois citizens would owe $50,800 apiece.

Alaska was tops, with a taxpayer surplus of $56,500, which is the money left over after the payment of all its bills. Its financial position improved by almost $3 billion over the last fiscal year. North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota were also states with surplus.

Tennessee was the only state in the southeast with a surplus asVolunteer State taxpayers would receive $2,500 apiece after the state's bills were paid.

South Carolina was the southeastern state in the worst fiscal condition, with its taxpayers hefting a $18,100 burden. Louisiana was second worst, as its taxpayers have a $15,500 burden to cover the state's debts.

Alabama taxpayers would owe $11,800 apiece, while those of North Carolina ($8,100 apiece), Georgia ($3,900 apiece) Arkansas ($2,900 apiece) and Florida ($1,800).

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