Politics & Government

If you had to pay Kansas’ debt yourself, you’d owe most in region

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Photo illustration Courtesy photo

If taxpayers were personally responsible for their state’s debt, the average Kansas taxpayer would owe three times as much as the average Missouri taxpayer and nearly 200 times the amount of the average Nebraska taxpayer.

That’s based on a report from the Kansas Development Finance Authority, which relied on 2016 data from Moody’s Investor Services. The data was presented to the Senate budget committee on Thursday.

Kansas has seen its taxpayer-supported debt increase by 50 percent over the past two years after taking on $1 billion in pension bonds and $400 million in highway bonds in 2015. Kansas now owes nearly $4.5 billion in tax-supported debt.

Divide that figure by the state’s population, and that translates to a debt of $1,534 per Kansan, according to the report.

That’s above the national average of $1,431 and ranks 17th-highest out of all 50 states. The report says Kansas was previously considered a low-debt state but is now considered a “moderate debt state” by Moody’s.

Kansas is an outlier among states in the region, which have low tax-supported debt per capita.

The average Nebraskan is on the hook for just $8, the lowest debt amount in the entire nation. Oklahoma ranks 43rd among states with a per-capita debt of $397, while Colorado ranks 42nd with a per-capita debt of $424.

Missouri has a per-capita debt of $574, which puts it 39th in the nation.

“I’m certainly concerned that we’re one of the states that has some of the highest debt,” said Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, the Senate budget chairwoman.

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3

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