Palin Left Alaska With Debts Equal to 70 Percent of Its GDP

By
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 3:41 pm

While Greece’s public debt — which the Goldman currency swaps were designed to help hide — amounts to 113 percent of its GDP currently, it turns out that Greece and its EU partners aren’t the only one keeping debts off the books and using complex accounting techniques to hide them. Mary Williams Walsh reports in The New York Times that many states engaged in the same behavior and, like Greece, are about to face a major reckoning.

California, New York and other states are showing many of the same signs of debt overload that recently took Greece to the brink — budgets that will not balance, accounting that masks debt, the use of derivatives to plug holes, and armies of retired public workers who are counting on benefits that are proving harder and harder to pay.

New Hampshire and Colorado attempted to use program-specific pots of state money to plug holes in their general treasuries; Connecticut wrote its own accounting rules; Hawaii reduced the length of its school week; and California made its businesses pay their 2010 taxes earlier to make the budget appear more balanced than it is. But one thing every state is doing, including Alaska, is camouflaging its debts by not releasing how much its state employee pension funds will owe — or how far behind it is on its contributions to said pension funds.

Less than a year after then-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) quit the government to pursue other projects, Alaska leads the way in its debt-to-GDP ratio when its unfunded pension obligations are taken into account, followed by Rhode Island, New Mexico, Ohio and Mississippi. And although Alaska’s ratio is far lower than Greece’s, it does give the state a debt-to-GDP ratio similar to that of Jordan and Palin’s favorite health care resource, Canada, and a higher ratio than Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, India, the Philippines or Uruguay.

Follow Megan Carpentier on Twitter


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monkey99
Comment posted March 30, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

So THAT'S why she quit!

I knew this beforehand, but it's fun to write it again.


Ardiva
Comment posted March 30, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

That's what she did to the city of Wasilla when she was mayor there. They never had any debt before…but not after Palin got through with it. B*%^# !


Irish_Wake
Comment posted March 30, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

She left the city behind after her fiscal irresponsibility left the city in debt.

She left the state behind after her fiscal irresponsibility left the state in debt.

Is this what she means when she talks about the left and debt?


strangely_enough
Comment posted March 30, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

She didn't “quit”; she unencumbered herself of electoral and fiscal responsibilities.
And, apparently at a very good time, too.


monkey99
Comment posted March 30, 2010 @ 10:47 pm

I wonder when she'll unencumber herself from the TPer's. Begs the question what sort of damage she'll leave behind, there.


GermanGoodness
Comment posted March 31, 2010 @ 12:19 am

She left “for the good of Alaska.”

Hmmm… apparently, that was really true.


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majii
Comment posted March 31, 2010 @ 3:41 am

She's scheduled to speak for an undisclosed amount of money in June at California State University. This is what one official had to say about it:
_________________________________________________________________

Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, which represents CSU instructors, said Yee is right to push for full disclosure of Palin's fee.

“It just seems like an odd choice for a university,” Taiz said. “If you want a moneymaker, why not Paris Hilton? She has about as much academic value and would probably bring even more money, if that's the goal.” (Ahh truer words were never spoken.) H/T to Gryphen @ The Immoral Minority.blogspot.com


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casualobserver1
Comment posted March 31, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

This is one of the BEST of reasons to only elect politicians who have an understanding of business. BUT, that said, we could look to California with a strong Republican business governor who has a strong business sense (his personal wealth) but lacks an understanding of how to effectively keep the state's budget balanced. It is a difficult problem and I don't have any answers. In time, all the states will emerge from their problems but there will be a LOT of pain for the residents along the way. Pointing fingers WON'T help by the way. I have no sense of glee that she has failed miserably in Alaska (although I am sure Rush would be very gleeful if the president failed–per his comments). It is important for us (as a nation) to remember that this is OUR country and it is to our advantage if it succeeds. That is all.


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Comment posted March 31, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

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kt2kelly
Comment posted March 31, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

She has already left the teabaggers———–she's campaigning for John(get the fuck off my lawn)McCain


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monkey99
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 2:04 am

But she did that “rally” in Searchlight, NV last weekend, which I found amusing. Not only because the “protesters” were all from out-of-state, but that residents of the state were throwing eggs, and the TPers (especially Breitbart) were making a fuss over who is more violent, them or progressives.

I get a kick out of $arah's supporters, too. They're so indoctrinated to her colloquialisms, their thought processes don't go much farther than that. I've said her popularity is a double-edged sword. McCain will learn that obvious fact come November.


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dumbdemocrats
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 2:22 am

Actually there isnt enough information in this story to be of any use. What was it BEFORE she took office? If it was 75% of GDP, than she improved things, if it was 65% then she made it worse. NONE of these stories say which lead me to believe they are leaving this information out on purpose..

Lets also ignore that a % of GDP means nothing when one has revenues to pay for the debt. Alaska definately can afford a 70% debt load with all the dam oil they have..


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Pingback posted April 1, 2010 @ 6:27 am

[...] Oh, Sarah: Less than a year after then-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) quit the government to pursue other projects, Alaska leads the way in its debt-to-GDP ratio when its unfunded pension obligations are taken into account, followed by Rhode Island, New Mexico, Ohio and Mississippi. [...]


Platonicspoof
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 5:52 am

It looks like the ratio was much better before Palin took office according to this source:
http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/downchart_g…
Note that the figure for 2010 in this chart is a 'guesstimate'.
Also, too, it doesn't explain why the ratio worsened.

Regardless of what level oil revenues return to, if state expenditures are greater, they won't be able to handle the debt load. Also. Too.


Post-Palin Alaska has largest debt burden in the US | ninja news
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[...] according to data compiled by the Washington Independent’s Megan Carpentier, who notes that Alaska has a debt burden similar to “that of Jordan and Palin’s [...]


casualobserver1
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

An astute observation as Alaska is the only state in the union (to my knowledge) that gives rebates to the residents from the oil revenue. Still, it is important, in my opinion, to govern in a responsible manner. The oil won't last forever. I would NOT want SP to be in a position of authority in national politics UNLESS she picks up a LOT more finesse and diplomacy and knowledge (which is possible, I suppose). We shall see. As a lifetime Republican, I still feel the best man won the presidency this time around based on the choices available and, so far, that position has not changed. We shall see what the field offers in 3 years.


dumbdemocrats
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

I also would not want to see her in office as a national level but stories like this are designed to appeal to the stupidest, lowest, common denominator in society.

To show the flaw in this story, one simply needs to discuss what the debt load is for the household in comparison to their income. If you own a home, your debt to GDP is probably 300-400%.. So really, whats the point of stories like this unless its to show the ignorance of the author of the story.


gahanson
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

If you actually do some research, you would find that Palin instituted several reforms to bring their pension system under control. She ratcheted down obligations by using a tiered system for current employees that allots their pensions according to seniority. She also enacted a totally new system for those who are newly employed while honoring past commitments which she was legally bound to do.

My guess is that the Alaska state pension system pre-existed Palin's term as governor, and probably pre-dates her birth.

This is about as ridiculous as the story about Palin sneaking into Canada to enjoy socialized medicine.

In other words, you are an EPIC FAIL, and should immediately return the money that Axelrod paid you to come up with this.


dumbdemocrats
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

Actually no, it looks like it was run much better with Palin in office because you pulled up the wrong chart. You show that spending was increased while debt was not increased..

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/usgs_line.p… Public Debt&year=1992_2010&sname=AK&units=p&bar=0&stack=1&size=l&col=c&spending0=43.87_35.96_31.93_28.49_26.07_27.17_32.15_30.57_26.84_29.88_29.62_25.76_24.57_22.25_21.84_22.27_21.16_22.17_22.38&legend=

It sure looks like Palin reduced the debt while increasing spending. So much for that argument


dumbdemocrats
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

What debt did she leave in Alaska that wasnt there before her term? This chart shows her debt is relatively the same..
http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/usgs_line.p… Public Debt&year=1992_2010&sname=AK&units=p&bar=0&stack=1&size=l&col=c&spending0=43.87_35.96_31.93_28.49_26.07_27.17_32.15_30.57_26.84_29.88_29.62_25.76_24.57_22.25_21.84_22.27_21.16_22.17_22.38&legend=


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T D
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

Who set up the pension plans? I kind of doubt they were only set up 3 years ago–which is when Palin took office.

Palin left Alaska in a better financial position than when she started by tripling its savings. And that in only 2-1/2 years in office. What other governor has increased savings by over $4 billion, let alone in such a short period of time?

To infer that Palin as governor was the creator of these pension plans or had the dominance in the legislature to “fix” them in her short term in office is a major problem with this report.


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Pingback posted April 1, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

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Will
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

After looking a little deeper, the narrative presented here gets even worse. These are debts from unfunded pension plan liabilities. Alaskans have known for a long time that these overly generous pension plans were waiting to blow up. I don't know if she added to or alternatively tried to fix the problem, but she certainly didn't create it! This story is downright misleading without further information. This debt is a long term Alaskan problem that has been created slowly over years and many administrations.


Irish_Wake
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

Your chart says you forgot either an axis or tick marks, so it will not display, but I'll play along.

Since my statement was ignored, you seem to imply leaving a small city to clean up one's financial mess is not a cause for concern. Pretending deficit spending is not occurring is not the most effective financial strategy. Assuming the debt at the start of her term (not 1992) is 'relatively the same' as when she quititated, are you implying that maintaining the status quo is the preferred method of addressing deficit spending?


dumbdemocrats
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

You seem to be pretending that there was a financial mess that needed cleaned up. Did the city have more debt when she left then when she arrived, yes, but this is due to development of a sports complex, water improvements, and street improvements. This development resulted in citizens SAVING 2 years worth of an extra .5% sales tax.

Did you get the keyword, EXTRA DEVELOPMENT RESULTED IN SAVINGS for the taxpayers!!!

Only in nutso land can saving taxpayers money be BAD.. This is what you are criticizing? Seriously? That the city would have been better paying MORE in taxes, and LESS development?


rb
Comment posted April 1, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

You seem to be pretending that there was a financial mess that needed cleaned up. Did the city have more debt when she left then when she arrived, yes, but this is due to development of a sports complex, water improvements, and street improvements. This development resulted in citizens SAVING 2 years worth of an extra .5% sales tax.

Did you get the keyword, EXTRA DEVELOPMENT RESULTED IN SAVINGS for the taxpayers!!!

Only in nutso land can saving taxpayers money be BAD.. This is what you are criticizing? Seriously? That the city would have been better paying MORE in taxes, and LESS development?


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Mara
Comment posted April 2, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

It's good to see not all those commenting here are idiots, incapable of rational and reasoned thought. Fact is, Alaska, as with the rest of the states, is grappling with the unsustainable Union contracts implemented by several administrations prior to Sarah's two-year stint as our governor. Alaskans know that reckless spending and the looming dangers of these Union contracts played a huge part in her campaign for governor.

Only a narrow minded, biased and ignorant leftist would blame her.


Irish_Wake
Comment posted April 2, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

I agree.
This is simple budgeting to increase taxpayer value.

So why does the ex-governor say our President is wrong to increase taxpayer value?


macgregor57
Comment posted April 3, 2010 @ 3:44 am

Perhaps the biggest point is that she quit……….. leaving the state in the lurch. That is one problem one would think she would want to address, especially since she was so popular up there. But, I am a narrow minded, biased and ignorant leftist.


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Irish_Wake
Comment posted April 3, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

It's the Union's fault.
It's the pension's fault.

Well, there we are!
Problem solved!
Only a narrow minded, biased and ignorant leftist could conceive any other factor, or suggest more might have been done to avert this inevitable catastrophe!


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macnvettes
Comment posted April 12, 2010 @ 9:18 am

I'm glad we agree on the narrow minded biased ignorant leftist part. Here is the thing though, the pension plan had nothing to do with her resignation. She did not cause the problem in her 2-year tenure as governor, and it would likely not have been solved in her remaining 2 years. Her successor is obviously aware of the problem and probably has a plan to help. It's not like she did anything like, oh say DOUBLING the debt in a single year like your hero Obama did and then left office (or worse stayed and enacted even more policies with similar results).


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ME
Comment posted May 11, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

What was Alaska's Debt before Sarah Palin?


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Anonymous
Comment posted December 14, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

When Palin took over as Mayor of Wasila, population 6,000, she took on $1 million in debt. When she left 6 years later the debt was $25 million. To put that in perspective, that is $4,200 per resident. TARP which she rails about is $1,900 per capita. The Wall Street Journal referred to the situation in Wasila as a “financial mess.”


Irish_Wake
Comment posted December 25, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

I noticed your SAVINGS were restricted exclusively to sales tax; financing a huge amount using deficit spending in order to receive a 0.5% savings on taxable goods is what Palin rails against – buying our votes with our money. It is a dumbdemocrats idea. I gave the ‘extra development’ argument the consideration it demanded by promptly ignoring it.

However, I note palmerbrown more recently brings additional facts to our attention. Their post addresses your concerns most succinctly:

When Palin took over as Mayor of Wasila, population 6,000, she took on $1 million in debt.

When she left 6 years later the debt was $25 million.

To put that in perspective, that is $4,200 per resident.

TARP which she rails about is $1,900 per capita.
The Wall Street Journal referred to the situation in Wasila as a “financial mess.”


AK-intheknow
Comment posted January 11, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

What is not shown is huge budget reserve and permanent fund savings. Well over $50B and over 100% of the states’ GDP. Basically, Alaska has enough money in the bank to cover its debts and then some.

And I’m far from a Palin-supporter but this is really poor analysis. As a research analyst myself, you and the NYT should be ashamed. Alaska is probably most fiscally responsible state in the Union. Also, why are there so many bonds? When a state is bigger than Texas and only 50 years old, you’ve got some serious infrastructure investments to make. That continues today and many projects require bonds. The pension fund indebtedness isn’t nearly as bad as it first looked either.


Christian Nanna
Comment posted February 5, 2011 @ 8:52 am

You’re a Palin troll. The Permanent Fund has nothing to to do with Sarah Palin. Alaska lives off the federal teat and you know it.


Christian Nanna
Comment posted February 5, 2011 @ 8:56 am

Sarah Palin was single-handedly responsible for legislation so bad that Alaska is now in the process of repealing her two biggest claims to fame. Ha! Just in time for her attempt to nominate herself Presidentess.

That woman is an idiot!


Christian Nanna
Comment posted February 5, 2011 @ 8:59 am

You’re going to get a nasty shock when AK repeals Palin’s stupid phony gasline legislation so that they don’t have to give away another half a billion dollars to Sarah Palin’s cronies.

And Dairygate is coming down the pike again, Palinbots …. hehe


Bsfurg
Comment posted March 18, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

how come ther is so much difference in what sarah did…. are ppl lying or didnt they check out there resources before they run there mouth….. one women in Alaska took sarah to court 18 times over nothing… add that to how many othere idiots did the same thing to her..it was cost alaska millions to just satify these idiots… they had to do it ..it was the law… these idiots should have had to pay for it…


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Anonymous
Comment posted July 14, 2011 @ 5:58 am

Andree McLeod, a Republican woman, filed complaints about things Palin was doing- or not doing. They were friends until Andree realized Palin wasn’t going to live up to her campaign promises and was stonewalling Andree. She filed the complaints to force the Palin administration to live up the their promises they made when they were trying to get votes. The fact is that it did not cost “millions” and had Palin directed her administration to release information and all the other things they should have done - the complaints would have never been filed.


Anonymous
Comment posted July 14, 2011 @ 6:55 am

Alaska collects no state income tax from those who make money in Alaska and Palin raising the taxes on oil has caused less new drilling, so less oil tax money coming in. The state does receive more federal money per capita than any other state.
And the Permanent Fund Dividend has been around a lot longer than Palin- it is a fund that is invested and the earnings go to the residents each year. The PFD is the 3rd rail of Alaskan politics for any politician thinking it should be used for anything else.


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