Indiana’s per-taxpayer financial burden $5,700, Oklahoma’s is $14,600
Published: April 5th, 2011
The Institute for Truth in Accounting has released Indiana’s Financial State of the State.
After the group’s customary intensive review of the state’s 2010 audited financial report, the Institute determined the State is in a precarious financial position because it does not have the funds available to pay $11.4 billion of the State’s commitments as they come due. Each taxpayer’s share of this financial burden equals $5,700.
For purposes of comparison, the group found that Oklahoma’s per-taxpayer financial burden was $14,600, based on analysis of the Sooner State’s 2009 audited financial report.
Indiana state law requires a balanced budget. “If governors and legislatures had truly balanced the state’s budget, no taxpayer’s financial burden would exist,” said Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of the Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA). She continued, “A state budget is not balanced if past costs, including those for employees’ retirement benefits, are pushed into the future.”
While Indiana reported total assets of $51.4 billion, the Institute’s review of the state’s 2010 financial report revealed that there are almost $12 billion of off-balance sheet retirement liabilities.
More than $24 billion of the State’s assets cannot be easily converted to cash to pay State bills of $37.8 billion as they come due. These assets consist of capital assets, including infrastructure, buildings and land, and assets the use of which is restricted by law or contract. The IFTA analysis concludes Indiana does not have the funds needed to pay for $11.4 billion of state obligations.
As is the case around the country, many of the obligations relate to state employees’ and teachers’ pension and retirement healthcare benefits. Years of over-promising retirement benefits, while shortchanging funding, have resulted in the state’s retirement systems being underfunded by $12.9 billion. As of June 30, 2010, the state had set aside only 54 cents to pay for each dollar of benefits promised. As of that date only $15.1 billion was deposited into the retirement systems, even though the actuaries calculated that a minimum of $28 billion should have already been contributed.
The Indiana “Financial State of the State”, available at www.truthinaccounting.org and Indiana.StateBudgetWatch.org provides this accounting by outlining the financial situation of the State, including unfunded liabilities to the State’s retirement systems.
In its literature, The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) is described as “dedicated to promoting honest, accurate, and transparent accounting at all levels of government and business. As a non-partisan, non-profit organization, the IFTA works to expose accounting deficiencies while promoting better, more accessible delivery of accurate government financial data — and, in turn, providing a foundation for more informed public policy.
“The IFTA provides its expertise to develop more effective accounting standards and deliver accurate government financial information to policymakers, opinion leaders, and citizens, so they can all work for a more secure financial future.”