One Thing Pennsylvania Isn't Leading Other States in — Debt

Debt is a hot topic in Harrisburg these days, but often lost in the rhetoric is just how low Pennsylvania's level of debt is.

In our latest installment of February Fiscal Facts, we follow up an earlier report on Pennsylvania's debt service payments with a look at the state's outstanding debt situation.

Believe it or not, Pennsylvania has a very moderate debt level, according to bond rating firms Moody's and Standard & Poor's, particularly for a populated, industrial state. Neighboring New Jersey has a debt level three times that of Pennsylvania.

When you add in unfunded pension liabilities, Pennsylvania's debt falls in the bottom third of states.

Not only is Pennsylvania's debt load low, it is using the debt appropriately. Some states, in the face of fiscal troubles,  have taken on debt to pay for normal operating expenses. This is like paying for groceries with a credit card or a home-equity loan. So far, Pennsylvania has been able to avoid doing this — unlikes some states, including, again, New Jersey.

Pa. Has a Modest Debt Load


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