💲 NJ ranks dead last in a new report on states' finances

💲 The state is staring down a debt amount of nearly $180 billion

💲 The state's finances actually improved in 2022

A $10 billion surplus sounds nice on the surface, but it loses its glamour once you know there's a much larger debt amount creeping behind the scenes.

In their latest report on states' finances, the think tank Truth in Accounting has ranked  New Jersey dead last — again — among the 50 states.

Based upon the latest audited financial report for fiscal year 2022, New Jersey receives a financial grade of an "F" in the report.

The Garden State's financial condition actually improved in 2022, thanks to federal funding for COVID relief and increased tax collections. But the state still managed to rank dead last.

In 2022, the state had $48.7 billion available, to pay $227.9 billion worth of bills, the report says. The outcome: a $179.2 billion shortfall.

Truth in Accounting
Truth in Accounting

"The state has chosen to pay this amount off over time, but it doesn't negate the fact that the state currently owes this amount," Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting, told New Jersey 101.5.

The report cites a "taxpayer burden" of $53,600. That's the amount of money the state would need from every taxpayer in order to cover all of its outstanding bills.

Connecticut posted the second-highest taxpayer burden, at $50,700.

New Jersey highlighted the presence of a $10 billion surplus coming into the current fiscal year. Weinberg said that's the number that residents and elected officials tend to hear about — and not the amount that's owed for years of borrowing of liabilities.

According to the report, New Jersey had set aside less than 42 cents for every dollar of promised pension benefits. Less than one cent had been set aside for every dollar of promised retiree health care benefits.

"Would decisions be different in the state if everybody was aware that the state needed $179 billion to pay its bills?" Weinberg said.

Six states received an "F" in the report. Thirteen states received a "D" grade. Four states — Alaska, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming — received an "A" in the report.

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