This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 14, 2012 10:43 AM. The previous post in this blog was Scam odor surrounds new Multnomah County courthouse. The next post in this blog is An invention that's already been invented?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oregon looks relatively decent in unofficial money survey

For several years now, a group called the Institute for Truth in Accounting has been doing important work, trying to think critically about the financial condition of the nation's 50 states. They don't take as gospel the sugar-coated messages delivered by the politicians and bureaucrats; they dig into the numbers to try to assess how far in hock the states really are. Their latest report, released this week, is based on the mid-2010 financial reports released by state governments. It's a large pdf file that we've posted here.

In the report, Oregon comes in as the state with the ninth least debt per person, or $900 per household. This number is calculated by taking the state's liabilities and subtracting out assets on hand that are realistically available to pay them, then dividing by the number of federal tax filers in the state who had a tax liability.

In contrast, Washington State comes in at no. 27, with debt of $9,800 per household. Idaho is no. 13 at $2,600 per household; California comes in at no. 44 with $21,400 per household.

One can certainly argue with the methodology used to produce the rankings, but if nothing else, the report carries out the salutary functions of reminding us that financial accounting has a lot of art to it, and urging us to think about government finances in ways other than those pushed on us by the state capitol. We'd be interested in seeing how the City of Portland would stack up under their calculations. By our reckoning, the city's long-term debt is now more than $11,000 per person, but that does not include an offset for assets realistically available to pay them.

Comments (3)

Since employee benefits are the biggest sink, I'd hope we are OK.

My guess is that in the past few years we've thrown at a min:
- The tobacco settlement ($700M?)
- Stimulus money (better than $1B) and
- $1.1B last biennium
Into the general fund to pay for benefits.

Of course, you never hear a peep about this, but then again, to paraphrase the author, govt accounting systems are an anomaly.

Sounds to me like the state owns to much of this state. How about selling off those state owned assets, paying down some of the debt and start collecting property tax on what was sold.

Hey Jack I'm wondering if the number at the top of that first link is correct. With official national public debt at 15 trillion but real debt at 75 trillion.

I've heard that number being tossed around before but really didn't understand it.

Clicky Web Analytics