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Hawaii’s debt burden highest in the nation

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Hawaii’s debt burden, including future pension obligations for state and county workers, is highest in the nation as a percentage of the state gross domestic product, Moody’s Investors Service reported yesterday.

Total debt issuance and unfunded pension liabilities amount to 16.2 percent of state GDP, Moody’s reported. Hawaii ranked second on a per capita basis with debt of $7,987 for every man, woman and child, according to the report.

The joint figures released yesterday make it easier to compare fixed costs among states and with corporate-bond issuers, Moody’s said.

Hawaii’s Employees’ Retirement System, which pays pension benefits for state and county employees, was underfunded by $6.24 billion in 2009.

The problem has worsened in the past decade, and the fund is now in the bottom 20 nationally in terms of its funded ratio.

 

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