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Report: Pensions fuel Kentucky's $54 billion debt

Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon
Posted at 10:33 AM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-05 10:33:14-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky is more than $54 billion in debt, with estimated unfunded retirement benefits accounting for more than 80 percent of that figure.

Republican Auditor Mike Harmon issued a report on Tuesday detailing the various sources of Kentucky's debt. Pension liabilities were the largest, accounting for $43.3 billion. That's the total number of pension and health insurance benefits Kentucky owes over the next three decades but does not have the money to pay.

About $9 billion is debt supported by state tax dollars, including $3.85 billion for construction projects and $1.81 billion for public universities. About $2.25 billion in debt is supported by bonds, including money for grants, scholarships and student loans.

Harmon says the total debt is more than $12,000 for every person in Kentucky.