Comparing Arizona Nationally On Debt

Arizona has one of the lowest expenditures on debt, pensions and retiree healthcare in the country in a ranking published by Governing Magazine. The analysis is provided by J.P. Morgan Asset Management. 



Charles Chieppo, a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center and a Governing Contributors, writes:

The good news is that in 36 states it would take less than 15 percent of revenues to amortize liabilities over 30 years; in another 10 it would take between 15 and 25 percent of state revenues.


Three of the four states in the worst trouble -- Connecticut, Kentucky and Illinois -- already have effective tax rates that are among the nation's highest. Rarely is there much of a political appetite for tax increases, but it seems particularly unlikely that voters in these states would support higher taxes as a significant piece of any fix.”


  • The state of Arizona paid off nearly $510 million in debt in FY 2015 and FY 2016.
  • Additionally, in the FY 2017 budget, the state of Arizona will pay $232 million in deferred payments (rollovers), including $200 million to universities, $11 million to the Department of Child Safety and $20 million to the Department of Economic Security.
  • According to J.P. Morgan Asset Management, it would take less than 10 percent of state revenues over the next 30 years to pay liabilities owed.
  • States with similar populations to Arizona (IN, TN, MO, MD, MA) would need to pay a higher percentage of their revenues to pay their debts in 30 years.
  • Maryland would need to pay more than twice as much as Arizona. Of those states, Arizona has lower debt than MO, MA, and MD, according to State Budget Solutions.


  • Proposition 124’s passing will restore financial stability to the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, which provides pension benefits for police and firefighters.
  • Currently the pension system’s obligations exceed its assets by more than $6 billion.
  • Prop 124’s passing is projected to save taxpayers $1.5 billion over the next 30 years.