Wisconsin per-taxpayer burden far lower than Oklahoma’s

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published 28-Feb-2011

The Institute for Truth in Accounting today (Monday, February 28) released its “Financial State of the State” report for Wisconsin.  The group concluded the per-taxpayer debt for citizens of Wisconsin is $7,900. This compares to the estimated burden, found last year, of $14,600 for each taxpayer in Oklahoma.
The conclusions concerning Wisconsin were reached after the institute’s typically thorough examination of the 2010 audited financial report for the state. Oklahoma’s burden was estimated based on the 2009 report for the Sooner State.
According to the institute, Wisconsin “is in a precarious financial position because it does not have the funds available to pay $15.3 billion of the State’s commitments as they come due.  Each taxpayer’s share of this financial burden equals $7,900.”
Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of the institute, said that although Wisconsin reports assets totaling $41.4 billion, a review of all available information reveals “there are more than $1.1 billion of off-balance sheet retirement liabilities.  More than $29.2 billion of the State’s assets cannot be easily converted to cash to pay State bills of $27.5 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 State does not have the funds needed to pay for $15.3 billion of state obligations.”
Similar to the situation in nearly every other state of the union, much of the unfunded gap in taxpayer obligations relates to pension and retirement benefits, including health care. The state’s retirement systems, the institute estimates, are underfunded by $1.4 billion.
The institute asserts, “As of June 30, 2010, the state had set aside only 85 cents to pay for each dollar of benefits promised.  As of that date only $7.4 billion was deposited into the retirement systems, even though the actuaries calculated that a minimum of $8.8 billion should have already been contributed.”
More information is available here.
In terms of taxpayer burdens, Oklahoma has one of the nation’s worst burdens. However, the state’s burden is not nearly as crushing as is found in Connecticut, New Jersey and Hawaii.
About the Institute for Truth in Accounting: The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) is 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.