Louisiana Ranks Among the Worst in the Country for Fiscal Health
Louisiana has earned a D rating in an annual assessment by a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group that analyzes budgetary conditions in states across the country. According to Truth In Accounting (TIA), Louisiana ranks in the bottom ten of states in its Financial State of the States — a failing that is attributed primarily to grossly unfunded pension liability in the state. As a result, Louisiana has racked up a total debt burden of $22.3 billion, or $18,700 per taxpayer.
The TIA report states that in 2020, for every dollar of promised pension benefits, Louisiana had only satisfied 61 cents and had set aside nothing for promised retiree health care benefits. The assessment stated that the state’s lack of adequate funding for pension and retiree health care benefits has led to an accumulated debt that is placing a burden on Louisiana taxpayers. This is despite abundant financial support from the federal government in the form of massive COVID-19 related grants.
In an article by The Center Square, TIA CEO Sheila Weinberg states that the Louisiana Employee Retirement System (LASERS) was still able to claim a 35.6% investment return because the state does not have a requirement to report retirement debts when balancing its annual budget. As a result, retirement debts are allowed to accumulate, further burdening Louisiana taxpayers year after year.
The Center Square reported:
The report assigned each state a taxpayer burden figure, determined by dividing the amount of unpaid liabilities by the number of taxpayers in a given state. While Louisiana ranked immediately ahead of New York and California, it was way ahead of the last three states – Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut – whose taxpayer burdens were $57,000; $58,300; and $62,000, respectively.