New Jersey has more debt per taxpayer than any other state in the union, and each person would have to fork over some $52,300 to balance the books. Truth in Accounting’s recent report, “Financial State of the States,” ranked each state by its “taxpayer burden,” the amount of debt owed per taxpayer, and the Garden State came in dead last. “Taxpayer Burden is driven by state governments’ use of out-dated accounting policies to calculate budgets and financial reports,” stated the Chicago think tank’s report. “States are not held to the same accounting standards as most businesses and publicly traded companies. Therefore states do not use the proper tools to balance their budgets. In fact, every year many states go even deeper into debt.”
Only two tax-and-spend states, Connecticut and Illinois, were even close to Jersey’s largesse, with each person in those states holding $48,600 and $45,000 in debt, respectively. Kentucky (at $32,600 per taxpayer) and Massachusetts ($27,400) rounded out the bottom five. The best-performing states almost all had one thing in common: a tiny population. Alaska sits in the best shape by far, with a $52,300 surplus per taxpayer. North Dakota ($28,400 in the black), Wyoming ($22,600), Utah ($4,200), and South Dakota ($4,000) all proved that balancing a budget doesn’t take magic — just simple math. In all, 11 states are operating with a surplus while 39 need to invest in a calculator before they continue rolling out more unnecessary expenditures.
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