Pennsylvania is selling almost $1 billion in General Obligation bonds this week. Here is a look at the state's financials relative to other states.

  • The state's fund balance is low at 0.2% of general fund revenues
  • The debt burden is near state medians
  • A pension funded ratio of 59% is in the bottom 20% of states

Pennsylvania shows weakness in its general fund balances and its actual cash and investments on hand. At the end of fiscal year 2016, the state's total general fund balance was a low 0.2% of revenues. That puts Pennsylvania in the bottom 20% of states (the state median for this measure is 10.4%). Actual cash and investments of $3.1 billion represented a low 5.5% of expenses.

Relative Analysis
Ratio Value Median Percentile
Fund balance ratios
Total fund balance over revenues 0.2% 10.4% 15
Total fund balance over expenses 0.2% 10.7% 17
Unrestricted fund balance over revenues -0.3% 6.2% 21
Unrestricted fund balance over expenses -0.3% 6.3% 19
Assigned and unassigned fund balance over revenues -3.0% 3.4% 21
Assigned and unassigned fund balance over expenses -3.0% 3.3% 23
Cash and investments over expenses 5.5% 11.8% 26
Revenue and expense ratios
Revenue growth, year-over-year 4.1% 2.5% 74
Expense growth, year-over-year 5.6% 3.5% 26
Net revenue margin -0.3% -0.5% 53
Debt ratios
Debt over governmental revenues 18.7% 22.5% 58
Governmental debt per capita 987 987 49
Pension ratios
Pension funded ratio 58.8% 71.1% 17
Net pension liability over revenues (governmental) 21.8% 15.3% 40
Pension ADC over primary government revenues n/a 1.7%
Pension contribution over primary government revenues n/a 1.7%
OPEB ratios
OPEB funded ratio 1.1% 1.0% 51
OPEB UAAL over revenues 26.8% 13.2% 34

Pennsylvania's debt burden is near the medians for states. Debt per capita was $987 in fiscal year 2016. Its pension funded ratio (blended across two plans) is relatively low at 59% (17th percentile among states). The net pension liability attributable to governmental funds was 21.8%, putting Pennsylvania in the 40th percentile (a lower percentile is weaker, which for this measure represents a higher pension burden).

East coast states

The table below compares Pennsylvania with New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland. Of these states, Pennsylvania's weak fund balances stand out, though they are not a low as troubled Connecticut.

Credit Pennsylvania New York Connecticut New Jersey Maryland
Fund balance ratios
Total fund balance over expenses 0.2% 3.5% -3.5% 10.9% 6.1%
Total fund balance over revenues 0.2% 4.5% -3.4% 11.4% 6.2%
Unrestricted fund balance over expenses -0.3% 3.5% -3.8% 7.9% 4.0%
Unrestricted fund balance over revenues -0.3% 4.5% -3.7% 8.2% 4.0%
Assigned and unassigned fund balance over expenses -3.0% 2.1% -5.7% 1.3% -1.7%
Assigned and unassigned fund balance over revenues -3.0% 2.6% -5.5% 1.3% -1.7%
Cash and investments over expenses 5.5% 11.8% 0.0% 4.8% 5.3%
Revenue ratios
Net revenue margin -0.3% -4.3% -2.3% -3.3% 1.7%
Debt ratios
Debt over governmental revenues 18.7% 27.6% 95.0% 82.3% 40.2%
Governmental debt per capita 987 2,088 6,703 4,949 2,338
Pension ratios
Net pension liability over revenues (governmental) 21.8% 4.6% 108.9% 173.4% 55.1%
Pension funded ratio 58.8% 90.0% 49.4% 32.9% 67.6%
Pension ADC percent contributed n/a 100.0% 99.7% n/a 95.7%
Pension ADC over primary government revenues n/a 1.1% 7.8% n/a 4.5%
Pension contribution over primary government revenues n/a 1.1% 7.8% n/a 4.3%
OPEB ratios
OPEB UAAL over revenues 26.8% 51.0% 72.0% 114.7% 31.9%