(Newsroom America) -- A new study by an independent think tank says U.S. states are collectively more than $4 trillion in debt, though the most recent fiscal indicators show that state debt fell over the past year.
The study by State Budget Solutions, in its third annual "State Debt Report," said aggregate debt fell last year by $.24 trillion to $4.19 trillion. The organization's calculations include "a state’s regular debt, the fiscal year 2013 budget gap, outstanding unemployment trust fund loans, unfunded other post employment benefit liabilities, and the state’s unfunded pension liabilities," The Washington Examiner reported.
Once again, California led all other states in terms of unfunded liabilities - promises of future benefits lawmakers have made to residents - totalling $617 billion, the report said.
On a per capital basis, that amounts to $16,386 in state debt per Californian compared to just $11,117 owed by each Texan.
The top five states in total debt burden were California, New York ($300 billion), Texas ($286 billion), New Jersey ($282 billion), and New Jersey ($271 billion). the same five states which led the rankings last year, the paper said.
The primary driver of state debt are unfunded pension liabilities, which account for $2.8 trillion of the total shortfall.
California faces $398 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and alone, said the paper.
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