Financial think tank gives South Dakota high marks

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(The Center Square) – South Dakota is among the ten most financially healthy states in the U.S., according to a report released this week.

The state ended fiscal year 2022 with a taxpayer surplus of $6,900 per taxpayer, according to Truth in Accounting’s annual Financial State of the States report, where the think tank analyzes the 50 states based on their fiscal health.

South Dakota had $6 billion available to pay $3.9 billion worth of bills, leaving it with a $2.1 billion surplus, the report said.

Additionally, South Dakota stood out as a state with no unfunded retiree health care benefits and pension plans overfunded by a little more than $3 million.

“Maintaining a surplus is advisable because the value of pension plan assets can fluctuate dramatically,” the report said.

South Dakota’s healthy financial state and fully funded pension plans are in contrast to the majority of states whose debt comes from retirement plans, the report found. Pension debt across the U.S. totaled $782 billion at the close of fiscal year 2022, and other post-employment benefits totaled nearly $570 billion, according to the report.

Furthermore, 28 states did not have enough money to pay their bills. The report shows that debt among the states was $938.6 billion, down from $1.2 trillion in 2021. The decrease was primarily due to increased tax revenue and Federal COVID funds distributed among the states.

“We are happy to see state debt decreasing but states should not count on temporary federal funding and increased tax collections to fix their long-term problems,” said Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting. “Elected officials need to include the true costs of government in their budget calculations, including accruing retirement benefits so that they can make real progress towards a healthier financial future.”

The five states in the healthiest financial positions were Alaska, with a taxpayer surplus of $80,000, followed by North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Tennessee. States that ranked at the bottom and had taxpayer burdens above $20,000 were Hawaii, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

South Dakota was a few days late to release its annual financial report but not as late as reports from some other states were. Eleven states took over 250 days to release their financial information. As of September, three still had not released reports. A financial report is considered on time if it is released within 180 days after the close of the fiscal year.

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