Here’s a real shocker.

A new report gives New Jersey a grade of “F” for having the worst finances of any state in the nation.

According to Sheila Weinberg, the CEO of Truth in Accounting, a think tank that analyzes government financial reporting, New Jersey’s finances have been in a free-fall for the past three years.

“If you divide the amount of money needed to pay all of New Jersey’s outstanding bills by the number of state residents, each taxpayer’s burden is $67,200,” she said.

“This represents the amount that each taxpayer would have to send to the state capital just to bring the state’s finances back into a balance.”

She pointed out another way to look at it is this is the amount of money New Jerseyans will have to pay in the future in taxes, but they won’t receive any benefits or services.

So how did this happen?

Weinberg said the way the state has gotten into this horrible mess “is by having the legislature and the governors promising benefits, pension and retiree healthcare benefits without paying for those as they were incurred.”

She noted every year the legislature and the governor work out a so-called balanced budget that’s signed into law but, “they were using accounting gimmicks to overstate revenues but understate expenses.”

She said the TIA analysis shows in New Jersey “the unfunded pension benefits are $119 billion, and the unfunded retiree healthcare benefits are $70 billion.”

She added the only option for the future will be to raise taxes even more to pay these bills.

Weinberg said it’s lawmakers who must bear the blame for this disastrous situation because they assured voters the budget was balanced and the state was living within its means, which was simply not true.

She pointed out Jersey’s taxpayer burden has been steadily growing since 2009.

“At that point in time it was $34,600, so your taxpayer burden has almost doubled in those eight years.”

The state with the second worst taxpayer burden after New Jersey is Illinois, at $50,400, and Connecticut ranks as the third worst state with a taxpayer burden of $49,500.

Believe it or not, some states actually have surplus funds for their residents.

The state with the highest surplus per taxpayer is Alaska, with $38,200.

North Dakota is second with $24,000 and Wyoming is third with a $20,500 surplus for every taxpayer in their state.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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