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What you need to know: Kansas debt & spending

September 12, 2013

What is the budget/debt situation?

From 1994 to 2013 our state’s population grew 13.5% while state spending rose over 111%. If state spending had grown at the same rate as our population, we would now have a budget surplus of over $27 billion.

Our state is over $5.5 billion in debt, and when you add in the unfunded pension liabilities, it amounts to more than $16 billion in debt. (Billion – with a “B”) What does this mean for the average Kansan? That means if you look at it in the most positive light, each and every one of us owes around $2,000.

But if you look at all of the unfunded liabilities we still owe, the debt per Kansan is more than $5,500 for every man, woman and child. That’s more than $22,000 for a family of four!


What steps have been taken?

In the most recent legislative session, lawmakers have made strides to bring our state on a path toward fiscal responsibility, cutting $199 million from the state budget. It’s a start, but we can do more.

In this past year, legislators also passed a budget provision that limits the growth of state spending to 2 percent per year, which is an important step to keep spending under control.

Let’s take a look at the numbers, according to research from Kansas Policy Institute.

Kansas Debt 2013

  • $5.68 Billion- Long term obligations1
  • $10.13 Billion- Unfunded pension liability2
  • $271 Million- Unfunded other post-employment liability2
  • $50.2 Million- Unemployment loans3
  • $16.13 Billion – Total

Your Share of the Debt:

$5,591- Total Debt Per Capita4

$22,364- Total Debt for Family of Four



1. Kansas Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, June 30, 2012.

2. KPERS Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, June 30, 2012 with unfunded KPERS liabilities based on market value of plan assets as of December 30, 2011.

3. U.S. Dept. of Labor, as of April 29, 2013.

4. Total calculated debt above divided by July 1, 2012 population estimate from U.S. Census.



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