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States Most Likely To Go Bankrupt

Several states in the Union are discussing bankruptcy, despite opposition in Washington. How bad is it? The Daily Beast crunches the numbers of all 50 states to find who's in the deepest debt—and it isn't who you think.





On Friday, The New York Times reported that policymakers, cognizant that 44 states project budget shortfalls in 2012, were exploring ways to let these states declare bankruptcy. That possibility—forbidden under current law—has been debated all week.


So which states are the most vulnerable—in terms of indebtedness and unfunded liabilities—and thus more likely to consider this drastic option, should it be made available? The Daily Beast first ranked state indebtedness last August, measuring debt-to-gross domestic product ratio—the higher the ratio, the more likely a state would remain mired in debt.

Now we’ve updated the data. These rankings reflect 2009 GDP (current dollars) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, while the 2009 debt figures are from the U.S. Census.

Meanwhile, debt is just half the story. The other half of our ranking is split evenly between each state’s percent of unfunded pension obligations, and unfunded health care obligations for retirees, based on a study by the Pew Center on the States.

Future budget shortfall levels are based on an independent analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which uses estimates of next year’s baseline budget spending compared to expected revenue.

It’s clear that debt is far from a Washington problem, and it belongs to both parties. Where does your state rank?

#1, Rhode Island


Debt 2009: $9.2 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $290 million
GDP 2009: $47.8 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 19.19%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $4.4 billion (39%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $788 million (100%)

On the chopping block: Rhode Island’s judges and court workers are trudging along despite a lack of funds cutting paid work days per week and 53 positions that remain unfilled. “This is not a time for expensive initiatives and hefty new capital projects. It is a time to do the very best with the limited resources we have,” said Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell. The states court system has responded to budget shortfalls in part by disposing of cases on backlog.

#2, Connecticut


Debt 2009: $28.4 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $3.7 billion
GDP 2009: $227.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 12.49%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $15.9 billion (38%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $26 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: State-funded higher education took a hit when Governor Jodi Rell signed her $19 billion budget in early May 2010. Connecticut State University had $11 million transferred from its operating reserve account to the state’s general fund. A $309 million package from the federal government in August avoided teacher layoffs and Medicaid cuts.


#3, Massachusetts


Debt 2009: $74.6 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $1.8 billion
GDP 2009: $365.2 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 20.43%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $21.8 billion (37%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $15 billion (98%)

On the chopping block: MassHealth, the state’s health program for low-income residents, has had nearly $850 million cut from its budget since 2009. The biggest chunk—$600 million—comes out of provider reimbursements, followed by $140 million cut to serve qualified legal immigrants and $56.3 million used to cover adult oral care. The state is responsible for about half of MassHealth’s budget.

#4, Illinois


Debt 2009: $57.0 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $15.0 billion
GDP 2009: $630.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 9.04%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $54.4 billion (46%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $39.9 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: The state's mental-health services will lose $91 million in funding during the next fiscal year as a result of Illinois' extreme budget gap. Illinois Human Services chief Michelle Saddler has expressed her worry over the effect of the large cut, saying, "I'm concerned that we will see a real public-health crisis and real public-safety crisis with these cuts."

#5, Hawaii


Debt 2009: $6.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $410 million
GDP 2009: $66.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 10.36%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $5.2 billion (31%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $10.8 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: State jobs and tax credits. In April, the legislature agreed to cut 800 jobs and eliminate tax credits for investment in high-tech in order to compensate for the $1.2 billion budget gap over the next two years.

#6, New Jersey


Debt 2009: $56.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $10.5 billion
GDP 2009: $483 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 11.78%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $34.4 billion (27%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $69 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: One of the biggest losers will likely be school districts, which are slated to have their funding decreased by $820 million. With $268 million coming in federal aid, 4,000 teachers may be able to keep their jobs. “Public opinion may well shift a bit when school is back in session, once parents start seeing the effects,” said Ben Dworkin of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics.


#7, New Hampshire


Debt 2009: $8.4 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: n/a
GDP 2009: $59.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 14.16%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $2.5 billion (32%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $3.1 billion (95%)

On the chopping block: Aid to at-risk children. A special legislative committee approved Governor John Lynch’s plan to cut, among other things, $15 million from the Department of Health and Human Services, including $2.5 million for children the courts place in special programs.

#8, Indiana


Debt 2009: $23.7 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $270 million
GDP 2009: $262.6 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 9.03%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $9.8 billion (28%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $442 million (100%)

On the chopping block: State agency budgets. Agencies were asked to cut an additional 5 percent from spending in April, on top of the 10 percent reduction that had already been instituted earlier this year.


#9, Louisiana


Debt 2009: $17.5 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $1.7 billion
GDP 2009: $208.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 8.40%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $11.7 billion (30%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $12.5 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: The state's public hospital system, which will lose $68 million in the current iteration of the state budget bill. Also slated to lose millions are public universities and prisons.

#10, Oklahoma


Debt 2009: $9.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $600 million
GDP 2009: $153.8 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 6.41%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $13.2 billion (39%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $360 million (100%)

On the chopping block: The Sooner state postponed state-offered tax credits, instituted a 1% provider fee on insurance claim payments and reduced the budgets of state agencies beyond the 10% cut enacted during the 2010 fiscal year.

#11, Montana


Debt 2009: $4.8 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $80 million
GDP 2009: $40 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 13.25%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $1.5 billion (16%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $632 million (100%)

On the chopping block: Budget shortfalls in Montana are slated to come in part out of state workers’ pocketbooks and wallets. Despite protests from the Montana Public Employees Association, budget director David Ewer has publicly raised the possibility of future pay freezes.

#12, West Virginia


Debt 2009: $6.5 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $155 million
GDP 2009: $63.3 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 10.26%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $5 billion (36%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $6.1 billion (96%)

On the chopping block: Libraries. Governor Joe Manchin's line item veto of the state budget in April overruled the legislature's budget, which kept the state library budget intact, in favor of a five percent funding cut.


#13, South Carolina


Debt 2009: $15.3 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $877 million
GDP 2009: $159.6 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 9.59%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $12.1 billion (30%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $8.6 billion (98%)

On the chopping block: The arts, as Governor Mark Sanford vetoed $1.2 million for the state Arts Commission and $1.6 million for the South Carolina State Museum. Health care, too, as 16,000 low income South Carolinian women will lose a program that offered free screenings for breast cancer.

#14, Maine


Debt 2009: $5.4 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $436 million
GDP 2009: $51.3 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 10.52%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $2.8 billion (20%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $4.3 billion (99%)

On the chopping block: MaineCare. The state's health service's department is one of the major fiscal loss leaders in state’s budget as it's slated to lose $45 million. The cuts will hamper access to health care and programs for the developmentally disabled.


#15, Kansas


Debt 2009: $5.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $492 million
GDP 2009: $124.9 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 4.69%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $8.3 billion (41%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $317 million (100%)

On the chopping block: Transportation. In trying to balance the state’s budget, Governor Mark Parkinson cut $50 million from the state’s highway fund. Construction projects won’t be affected, but maintenance services will be cut.

#16, Vermont


Debt 2009: $3.4 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $150 million
GDP 2009: $25.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 13.47%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $462 million (12%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $1.6 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: The Vermont Department of Education is aiming to slash 2 percent from its overall budget—about $23 million. A $19 million influx from the federal government could help stave off some, though not all, teacher layoffs. “There are not really many more places to cut without gutting programs,” said superintendent Ron Stahley. “We have to balance these targeted reductions with maintaining viable programs."

#17, Mississippi


Debt 2009: $6.2 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $634 million
GDP 2009: $95.9 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 6.47%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $8 billion (27%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $570 million (100%)

On the chopping block: Governor Haley Barbour's 2011 budget recommendation, which passed in April, stripped $3 million from educational funding and reallocated $30 million from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program for the creation of a school district bridge loan program.


#18, Alaska


Debt 2009: $6.6 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $0 billion
GDP 2009: $45.7 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 14.42%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $3.5 billion (24%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $4 billion (44%)

On the chopping block: An appropriation for a new state office building, which was cut from $5 million to $2 million. But despite its poor debt-to-gdp ratio, Alaska has used its oil riches to avoid painful social welfare cuts other states have resorted to. Governor Sean Parnell has refused to accommodate new state spending going forward. "At this point, you can just count on me to work to drive agency requests down," he said.

#19, Maryland


Debt 2009: $23.5 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $1.6 billion
GDP 2009: $286.8 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 8.18%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $11 billion (22%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $14.7 billion (99%)

On the chopping block: Funding for local road projects. In order to reach a compromise with the state's teachers union over the rising costs of teacher pensions, the House agreed to a bill in April that eliminated nearly all of "highway user" revenue for Maryland counties. Until 2015, counties will receive less than a tenth of the hundreds of millions for road construction they'd received every year for the last two decades.

#20, Kentucky


Debt 2009: $13.4 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall*: $780 million
GDP 2009: $156.6 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 8.56%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $12.3 billion (36%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $11.7 billion (90%)

On the chopping block: Governor Steve Beshear has threatened that "harsh cutbacks to education, economic development and care for Kentuckians with mental illness and mental retardation" are afoot, as well as the veto of several state-funded municipal projects which were not sufficiently funded.

*Kentucky operates with a 2-year budget

#21, Missouri


Debt 2009: $19.2 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $1.1 billion
GDP 2009: $239.8 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 8.02%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $9 billion (17%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $2.9 billion (99%)

On the chopping block: Social services and mental health. Since the beginning of last year, 2,200 government jobs have been eliminated, but in the interest of protecting education funding, some more positions may be at risk. Among those named: child protection and welfare office workers.


#22, New Mexico


Debt 2009: $8 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $410 million
GDP 2009: $74.8 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 10.70%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $4.5 billion (17%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $2.9 billion (95%)

On the chopping block: Tax increases and cash reserves were not enough to cover the state's spending, with state agencies across the board suffering 3 percent budget cuts saving $5.3 billion. Federal stimulus money totaling $65 million will save public schools from massive cuts that had been expected from state contributions.

#23, New York


Debt 2009: $122.7 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $9.0 billion
GDP 2009: $1.1 trillion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 11.22%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $0
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $56.3 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: With the threat of a shut down in Albany and the state’s finances verging on desperate, the state legislature finally passed a budget in early August. The state's public schools may also be nearing desperation, as the cuts proposed by Governor David Paterson include chopping $1.1 billion for state aid to schools.


#24, South Dakota


Debt 2009: $3.6 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $127 million
GDP 2009: $38.3 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 9.47%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $183 million (3%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $76 million (100%)

On the chopping block: Regional teaching agencies. South Dakota's legislature eliminated $1.7 million in funding last year for the Education Service Agencies, which train teachers, and cut $500,000 that remained last session.

#25, California


Debt 2009: $134.6 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall*: $25.4 billion
GDP 2009: $1.9 trillion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 7.12%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $59.5 billion (13%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $62.4 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: Transportation. Tickets for a high speed rail line project between Los Angeles and San Francisco are expected to be twice original estimates. Despite $2.25 billion from the federal government, the first 520 miles of the line will cost $42.6 billion, up from $33.6 billion. "This just smells funny," said state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

*California’s shortfall includes an $8.2 billion shortfall carried forward from fiscal year 2011

#26, Colorado


Debt 2009: $17.2 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $988 million
GDP 2009: $252.7 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 6.81%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $16.8 billion (30%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $1.1 billion (81%)

On the chopping block: State agency budgets. Nearly every major state agency had budgets slashed by Governor Bill Ritter in Colorado’s newest budget plan, from $61.5 million from state universities, to $260 million from public schools, a 2.5 percent cut from state employee paychecks, and $6.3 million from the Department of Corrections.

#27, Michigan


Debt 2009: $29.6 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $1.8 billion
GDP 2009: $368.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 8.03%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $11.5 billion (16%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $40 billion (98%)

On the chopping block: Education—and tax hikes. Voters in Michigan expressed their disdain for tax hikes over budget cuts, according to a Michigan Free Press poll in in June, in consideration of the government's possible plan to lower the state sales tax from 6% to 5.5% while extending it to cover dry cleaning, hair cuts and lawn service. Like in many states, state funding for schools was slashed. "If you've been cutting your budget every year, there gets to be point where there's no more fat to cut. It is actually cutting into the bone, the programming of schools. And that's what you have now," said Iris Salters of the Michigan Education Association.

#28, Nevada


Debt 2009: $4.4 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $1.5 billion
GDP 2009: $126.5 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 3.51%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $7.3 billion (24%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $2.2 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: The Governor Guinn Millenium Scholarship program, which provides up to $10,000 toward college tuition for high school seniors, lost $12.6 million in funding last year as Nevada legislators closed the state's budget gap for the current fiscal cycle.

#29, Pennsylvania


Debt 2009: $41.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $4.5 billion
GDP 2009: $554.8 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 7.56%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $13.7 billion (13%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $10 billion (99%)

On the chopping block: Taxes on tobacco products and severance, and proposals to sell the state's monopoly on liquor sales to private investors are the most controversial ways the state has come up with to remedy its debt. Governor Ed Rendell had to announce $250 million in agency and appropriations funding, after federal funding fell short of expectations.


#30, Wyoming


Debt 2009: $1.3 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $147 million
GDP 2009: $37.5 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 3.52%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $1.4 billion (21%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $174 million (100%)

On the chopping block: Parks department roads. State parks in Wyoming encompass 300 miles of road, but there are still $7 million in pavement projects waiting to be completed. “We do what we can to get by, but it is constantly limping. And from a liability standpoint, it is going to catch up with us,” said Darin Westby, of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

#31, Delaware


Debt 2009: $6.0 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $377 million
GDP 2009: $60.6 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 9.88%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $129 million (2%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $5.4 billion (99%)

On the chopping block: State employee pay cuts. Contrary to most states, Delaware is putting money back in the pockets of salaried state workers, rescinding last year's 2.5% pay cut since revenue projections were raised.

#32, Minnesota


Debt 2009: $10.5 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $3.9 billion
GDP 2009: $260.7 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 4.04%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $10.8 billion (19%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $1 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: Doctors who provide services under MinnesotaCare—the state's health program for some low-income residents—stand to lose 15 percent on state payments under the budget passed by the legislature.

#33, Utah


Debt 2009: $6.3 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $437 million
GDP 2009: $112.9 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 5.55%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $3.6 billion (16%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $672.8 million (99%)

On the chopping block: Pension funds. Utah employees' defined benefit plan, which guarantees a set income for current employees who retire, is costing up to $400 million per year. To save money, new hires will have to choose either a more risky 401(k) plan or a plan that mixes the traditional benefit plan and the 401(k).

#34, Oregon


Debt 2009: $12.5 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall*: $1.8 billion
GDP 2009: $165.6 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 7.54%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $10.7 billion (20%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $609.8 million (70%)

On the chopping block: Justice. State courts could operate on a four-days-a-week schedule, and employees could face layoffs by the beginning of September. All that, even though the justice system was exempted by Governor Ted Kulongoski from making budget cuts.

*Represents one-half of state’s total projected shortfall for 2011-2013.

#35, Washington


Debt 2009: $24.6 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $2.9 billion
GDP 2009: $338.3 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 7.27%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: -$179.1 million (0%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $7.9 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: As a salve to budget shortfalls, Washington state implemented a tax on gum, bottled water, beer and candy. The projected revenue from the extra tax? $122 million over the next year.

#36, Alabama


Debt 2009: $8.2 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $586 million
GDP 2009: $169.9 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 4.80%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $9.2 billion (23%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $15.6 billion (97%)

On the chopping block: Education. With state income revenues down due to 11 percent unemployment, Birmingham area schools are at a crisis point and have already laid off more than 200 employees, including teachers and administrators.

#37, Idaho


Debt 2009: $3.5 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $300 million
GDP 2009: $54.0 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 6.50%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $722.2 million (7%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $489.4 million (99%)

On the chopping block: Funding for education was cut for the first time in the state's history last year, with a $62 million loss. For the upcoming fiscal year, five commissions are slated to be phased out, including the Department of Parks and Recreation, and Idaho Public Television.

#38, Arkansas


Debt 2009: $4.1 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $0
GDP 2009: $101.8 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 4.06%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $2.8 billion (13%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $1.8 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: The state's rainy day fund is slated to be raided in full to cover budget cuts. Reports say the fund's $40 million will be more than halved to make up for a $41 million shortfall to cover public school expenses. But Arkansas is in comparatively sound financial standing, with no deficit projected for next year.

#39, Iowa


Debt 2009: $6.4 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $294 million
GDP 2009: $142.3 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 4.47%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $2.7 billion (11%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $1.8 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: Students at private universities in Iowa will face tuition hikes this coming school year after a state grant was eliminated from the education budget, leaving a hole of $2 million. This, after Governor Chet Culver said he would not sign a state budget that cut K-12 education spending.

#40, Virginia


Debt 2009: $24.3 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall*: $2.3 billion
GDP 2009: $408.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 5.95%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $10.7 billion (16%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $2.6 billion (66%)

On the chopping block: Health Care. New federal money will soften the blow of the loss of health coverage for low income Virginians, but the $293 million the state received is still $100 million less than lawmakers were banking on.

*Virginia operates with a 2-year budget.

#41, Florida


Debt 2009: $38.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $3.6 billion
GDP 2009: $737.0 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 5.28%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: -$1.8 billion (-1%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $3.1 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: The judicial system. Staff have been relieved, basic maintenance has been cut, programs for drug offenders have been reduced, and one Tampa courthouse is infested with vermin. All that hasn’t stopped the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee which is building a $48 million courthouse complete with 60-inch LCD flat screens for each judge.


#42, Wisconsin


Debt 2009: $20.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $1.8 billion
GDP 2009: $244.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 8.56%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $252 million (0.3%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $1.7 billion (76%)

On the chopping block: Health insurance. Facing a budget gap of $6.6 billion last year while working on its two-year budget, legislators slashed $625 million from state Medicaid—representing 10 percent of the state’s contribution.

#43, Arizona


Debt 2009: $12.3 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $974 million
GDP 2009: $256.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 4.81%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $7.9 billion (20%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $808 million (35%)

On the chopping block: More than 350,000 Arizonians—including more than 40,000 children—lost a state-subsidized health care program when the legislature approved an $8.5 billion budget. But last month some relief came in the form of a 1-cent sales tax hike, estimated to produce $918 million in revenue its first year.

#44, Ohio


Debt 2009: $27.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $3.0 billion
GDP 2009: $471.3 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 5.93%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $19.5 billion (13%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $27 billion (62%)

On the chopping block: Public school funding could be cut by millions across Ohio next year when the state considers its next biennial budget. Some county districts stand to lose more than $5 million as state legislators try to address deficits.

#45, Tennessee


Debt 2009: $4.8 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: n/a
GDP 2009: $244.5 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 1.98%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $1.6 billion (5%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $1.7 billion (100%)

On the chopping block: As part of a compromise to pass a budget for 2010-2011, legislators shelved a $16.1 million fish hatchery, which state Republicans had branded with the most accursed Scarlet-Lettered phrase for pols: pork barrel.

#46, North Dakota


Debt 2009: $1.8 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $0
GDP 2009: $31.9 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 5.50%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $546.5 million (13%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $81.3 million (66%)

On the chopping block: Infrastructure. One of only two states that have not reported budget shortfalls, North Dakota has been able to go forward with as high as 23 percent raises for state employees. But the state lost $13 million in federal highway funding and will have to make up the difference to its upcoming budget.

#47, North Carolina


Debt 2009: $19.9 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $3.8 billion
GDP 2009: $398.0 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 5.00%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $504.8 million (0.7%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $28.7 billion (98%)

On the chopping block: Like so many other states, North Carolina is finding it tough to pay for its health care system for low income residents, and that could lead to unpaid time off for state workers. The state could find itself on the hook for $500 million in Medicaid if federal funding isn't renewed. "I would hope (we won't have furloughs), but I would not be surprised," said state senator Linda Garrou.


#48, Texas


Debt 2009: $30.4 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $13.4 billion
GDP 2009: $1.1 trillion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 2.66%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $13.8 billion (9%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $28.6 billion (98%)

On the chopping block: Texas has one of the better debt-to-gdp ratios at the moment, but its legislature is still having trouble coming up with the cash for the next two years of operating expenses. That could mean unpaid furloughs, salary freezes and four-day work weeks for state employees. "There's not any fat left," said Andy Homer of the Texas Public Employees Association. "This is cutting to the bone."


#49, Georgia


Debt 2009: $13.5 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $1.7 billion
GDP 2009: $395.2 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 3.40%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $6.4 billion (8%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $18 billion (96%)

On the chopping block: The Georgia Council for Arts is alive for now, but only barely, and its future is far from certain. A paltry $790,735 was scraped together to keep the council alive for another year, while funding for schools and colleges was cut $600 million.


#50, Nebraska


Debt 2009: $2.5 billion
Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall: $314 million
GDP 2009: $86.4 billion
Debt/GDP Ratio: 2.91%
Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $755 million (8%)
Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: n/a

On the chopping block: Students are going to have to pony up more money for tuition at all University of Nebraska campuses, according to a budget proposal released by president J.B. Milliken. With less money coming from the state, "I'm concerned about the investment in education," Milliken said.


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Tags: budget, stats yall
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