Illinois' debt per capita ranks among 10 highest in U.S., at nearly $15,000
Ranking among the top 10 states for debt per capita, Illinois is exhibiting a continuously increasing amount of red ink per resident — particularly pension debt, but also other calculated liabilities.
Debt per capita is the “unseen” but real liability that, because of the state’s negative financial status, applies to every worker in the state who is earning an “average” income. In the Land of Lincoln, that figure is now close to $15,000.
To illustrate the state’s position, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s policy adviser for economic development, Mischa Fischer, recently distributed information in a bar-graph format to clue in constituents on the relative weight of Illinois’ various types of fiscal obligations.
Fischer’s infographic indicated that while Illinois’ debt-per-capita figure was lower than that of New Jersey and Connecticut, its status nevertheless indicates ample room for improvement. Using color-coding, his diagram depicted Illinois’ unpaid bills in comparison, respectively, to the state’s pension debt and to its other post employment benefits.
Moody’s Investors Service — viewed as the nation’s standard arbiter for credit ratings — defines net tax-supported debt as "debt secured by state taxes or other operating resources that could otherwise be used for state operations; net of obligations that are self-supporting from pledged sources other than state taxes or operating resources."
Fischer is a former policy adviser and legislative director for the U.S. Congress, with expertise in science and transportation policy, financial services, agriculture, energy and foreign affairs.