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Comptroller’s report touts Indiana’s low debt, strong financial standing

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(The Center Square)—Indiana’s finances are in good order. That’s according to State Comptroller Elise Nieshalla, who released her first annual comprehensive financial report this week.

The report, which serves as an annual audited review of the state’s fiscal accounts, showed the state’s General Fund revenue in 2023 grew to $21.9 billion, $1 billion more than the previous year. Indiana’s assets outpaced its liabilities by $25.6 billion.

Hoosiers also have one of the lowest state debt loads in the U.S. At $366, Indiana’s per capita debt ranked seventh-best nationally. Regionally, it’s the smallest by far as the next lowest state, Michigan, has a per capita debt of $865. Kentucky’s $1,466, Ohio’s $1,642 and Illinois’ $2,903 are significantly higher.

“Indiana’s ACFR provides tangible evidence of our state’s strong financial position,” Nieshalla said. “In sharing Indiana’s low debt, low pension fund liability, healthy cash reserves, balanced budget and AAA credit rating, we are reminded how good it is to be a Hoosier.”

Currently, Indiana has $2.9 billion in its reserves. Initially, the reserve fund was $6.1 billion, but Nieshalla pointed out lawmakers chose to fund some projects from the excess funding rather than seeking bonds to pay for them. Other expenditures from the reserve fund included payments to the state’s teacher pension plan and a refund to taxpayers.

The reserve fund now equals 13% of the Indiana budget.

“This is an appropriate remaining amount to support Indiana keeping its high credit rating, managing well the in- and out-flow of funds and addressing potential unexpected challenges,” a two-page summary of the report stated.

The combination of low debt and sufficient reserves helped give Indiana an AAA credit rating, making it one of 14 states to receive the highest rating from the three independent rating firms. That means the state pays lower interest rates on the bonds it issues.

Fitch, one of the rating agencies, noted last fall that Indiana’s financial standing makes it “very well positioned” to handle a potential slump in the economy.

Nieshalla took over as the state’s comptroller after former Comptroller Tera Klutz resigned in late November. Appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, Nieshalla previously served as the Boone County Council President.

“As states and as citizens of this country, we must work diligently to support the securing of our country’s economic solvency,” the report’s summary concluded. “Our freedom depends on it – and Indiana provides a meaningful model of financial responsibility.”

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