Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How much does California owe? At least $265 billion, perhaps $737 billion

As the national discussion continues on raising the U.S. debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, Californians also should ask: How much is the Golden State in the red?

We've grown numb to annual budget meltdowns - shortfalls of $20 billion have become the norm. But what is our state's total debt? Would you believe at least $265 billion?

So how much is the Golden State in the red? At least $265 billion, and perhaps $737 billion, both greater than official state reports suggest.

For perspective, the proposed California general fund budget for next year is $84 billion. In a best-case scenario, per capita indebtedness is more than $7,400. In a worst-case scenario, it is $19,800, nearly one-half the U.S. figure of $45,600. Given those dismal numbers, Californians would be served well by focusing on state finances as much as on federal finances.