Press Release

Excessive State Bonded Obligations Threaten Future Generations

New report reveals total bonded liabilities exceed $1.2 trillion across the 50 states

For Immediate Release

Media contact: Catherine Mortensen, 703.478.4643


Arlington, Va. – The American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Center for State Fiscal Reform today released the 4th edition of its annual State Bonded Obligations publication. The report highlights the risks posed to taxpayers by excessive bonded obligations.

As the report details, state governments borrow for a myriad of reasons and issue various types of bonded obligations. Today, state bonded obligations total $1.23 trillion nationally, equal to $3,700 for every man, woman, and child in America.

The 10 states with the largest bonded liabilities make up 66% (over $810 billion) of the total bonded liabilities. These states are California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, Connecticut, Virginia and Michigan.

“By using bonds to increase spending today, states are passing the costs on to future generations of taxpayers,” said Jonathan Williams, ALEC Chief Economist and Executive Vice President of Policy. “State leaders can make the necessary changes, such as implementing priority-based budgeting and tax and expenditure limits, to ensure the future financial well-being of their states.”

Read the full report here.

The total bonded obligations slightly declined over the past year. This is in part because states received billions of federal dollars amid the government imposed COVID lockdowns. As a result, states beat revenue expectations in calendar year 2020.

“At the root of the government debt problem is a government spending problem,” added ALEC Research Manager Thomas Savidge. “It is vital for state leaders to curb the growth of spending and debt on behalf of their constituents and for the fiscal health of their state budgets.”

State Bonded Obligations, 4th Edition was published by the ALEC Center for State Fiscal Reform as part of its mission to provide policymakers with dependable economic and fiscal policy research to solve public policy challenges and produce better economic outcomes for all Americans.

Ten States with the Highest Per Capita Bonded Obligations

State Ranking Per capita debt
California 41  



Vermont 42  



Washington 43  



New Jersey 44  



Massachusetts 45  




New York


46 $8,647
Hawaii 47  



Alaska 48  



Rhode Island 49  



Connecticut 50 $12,242


The American Legislative Exchange Council is the largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators in the United States. For more information about the American Legislative Exchange Council, please visit: