Think tank gives Alaska top marks for fiscal health

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(The Center Square) – Alaska leads all 50 states in financial stability, according to the 14th “Financial State of the States” report by think tank Truth in Accounting.

The analysis, conducted in partnership with the University of Denver’s School of Accountancy, shows the state had more than $16 million in “spendable assets” at the end of fiscal year 2022. But the state’s financial condition dropped by $5 billion because of an investment loss in the state’s permanent fund, the first loss in a decade.

“Even with this loss Alaska still had a surplus that breaks down to $80,000 for every state taxpayer,” the report said. “It is advisable for a state to have surplus funds to counteract possible negative investment returns.”

Alaska pays its residents a yearly dividend with the state’s oil and mineral rights proceeds. This year, residents are receiving $1,312.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office declined to comment on the report when contacted by The Center Square.

The report shows Alaska is one of 22 states with enough money to pay its bills. Pensions and retirement plans take the biggest bites out of state budgets, according to the report.

Alaska and all 50 states received an influx of funding from the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ending of government shutdowns, which helped states improve their fiscal outlook, according to the report. The federal dollars make it impossible to predict what will happen in the future.

“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.”

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