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$6.7 billion burden shifted to Maine's future taxpayers

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According to The Institute for Truth in Accounting, Maine’s per-taxpayer burden of the state’s $6.7 billion shortfall is now $15,000.

The state of Maine has $14.5 billion in assets, but most of these assets are not available to meet the state’s bills.  The $5.6 billion of capital assets, such as roads, buildings and land, should not be sold to pay bills.  The use of $1.7 billion of the assets is restricted by law or contract.

That leaves $7.2 billion of state assets available to pay a total of $13.9 billion of bills as they come due.

The $6.7 billion shortfall represents compensation and other costs incurrede in prior years that should have been paid in those prior years.  Instead, these costs have been shifted to future tax payers.

The Institute for Truth in Accounting has performed a unique, comprehensive analysis of all state assets and liabilities, including unreported pension and retirement health liabilities. The result is shown as the per-taxpayer surplus or liability, the difference in each state’s assets and liabilities divided by the number of taxpayers in the state.

Maine does not have enough assets available ($7.2 billion), to pay the state’s bills, ($13.9 billion). The difference, $6.7 billion, divided by the number of taxpayers in the state, is the per-taxpayer burden: $15,000 in 2010.  Only six states—Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska and Wyoming—achieved a per-taxpayer surplus in 2010.

External data on this site shows Maine’s unemployment rate at 8.2%, compared to a national average of 9.6% in 2010.  Maine’s outbound moves are 53.7% of total, reflecting concern about state fiscal ills and employment opportunity.

Maine achieved the 180-day goal of time between the close of its fiscal year and release of its Comprehensive Annual Fiscal Report (CAFR), publishing the report 174 days after the fiscal year end.  Most timely states, Utah and Michigan, published their CAFR’s in 141 days; worst states were South Dakota (324 days), Illinois (365 days), and Hawaii (469 days).

• Maine’s $15,000 per-taxpayer burden ranks it 36th in 2010.

• With an average income of $36,763, Maine’s citizens’ taxpayer burden is 41% of a year’s income to pay the state’s future promises.

• Maine’s unemployment rate, 8.2%, is another indicator of its economic ills, compared to a national average of 9.6% in 2010.

• Maine’s financial reports still do not disclose $6.8 billion of unfunded pension benefits.

• Maine achieved the 180-day goal of time after the close of its fiscal year and release of its Comprehensive Annual Fiscal Report (CAFR), publishing the report 174 days after the fiscal year end.

More detail on Maine’s assets and liabilities can be found in the Financial State of the States report (PDF)

Related Links:  Maine CAFR,  Maine Comptroller

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson was the editor of The Maine Wire from 2013 through 2014. A native of Dexter, Maine, Robinson is a graduate of Bowdoin College, and is currently a Producer for The Howie Carr Show in Boston.

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