America's 50 state governments owe a total of $4.19 trillion, including outstanding bonds, unfunded pension commitments and budget gaps, according to a new report.
Total state debt is down 1.2 percent from $4.24 billion a year earlier, as state governments benefited in the last year from smaller budget gaps and reductions in loans taken from the federal government during the worst of the Great Recession to pay unemployment claims.
Market-valued unfunded public pension liabilities made up 67 percent of all state debt, according to State Budget Solutions, a research and nonpartisan advocacy group.
The group's third annual state debt report, which looked at combined debt and future spending obligations in all 50 states as of Dec. 31, found that $2.8 trillion of the $4.19 trillion total debt total goes toward pension liabilities.
Regular outstanding debt and other post-employment benefit liabilities each contribute around $600 billion to total debt.
"Our states are in trouble and no amount of budget gimmicks, political posturing or hiding bills will fix the massive debt that they face," said Bob Williams, president of State Budget Solutions. "Drastic reforms, innovations and political courage are needed to put our states back on the road to fiscal survival."
Vermont has the least amount of debt of all 50 states with a $5.8 billion state debt. North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska follow Vermont with the smallest debt burdens in the country.
The states with the five largest debts remained unchanged from last year's report.
Click "start" to see the top 5 most indebted states in the U.S.
Moran Zhang is a finance and economics reporter at The International Business Times. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal Digital Network’s MarketWatch, United...