Delaware

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Summary

On the basis of its fiscal solvency in five separate categories, Delaware ranks 38th among the US states and Puerto Rico for its fiscal health. On a short-term basis, Delaware has between 1.90 and 3.23 times the cash needed to cover short-term liabilities. Revenues cover 98 percent of expenses, producing an operating deficit of $195 per capita. On a long-run basis, Delaware has a negative net asset ratio of −0.03, and long-term liabilities account for 51 percent of total assets. Debt totals $3.02 billion. On a guaranteed-to-be-paid basis, unfunded pension liabilities are $8.03 billion, and other postemployment benefits (OPEB) add a further $5.66 billion in unfunded obligations.

Key Terms

  • Cash solvency measures whether a state has enough cash to cover its short-term bills, which include accounts payable, vouchers, warrants, and short-term debt. (Delaware ranks 20th.)
  • Budget solvency measures whether a state can cover its fiscal year spending using current revenues. Did it run a shortfall during the year? (Delaware ranks 46th.)
  • Long-run solvency measures whether a state has a hedge against large long-term liabilities. Are enough assets available to cushion the state from potential shocks or long-term fiscal risks? (Delaware ranks 40th.)
  • Service-level solvency measures how high taxes, revenues, and spending are when compared to state personal income. Do states have enough “fiscal slack”? If spending commitments demand more revenues, are states in a good position to increase taxes without harming the economy? Is spending high or low relative to the tax base? (Delaware ranks 46th.)
  • Trust fund solvency measures how much debt a state has. How large are unfunded pension liabilities, OPEB liabilities, and state debt compared to the state personal income? (Delaware ranks 10th.)

For a complete explanation of the methodology used to calculate Delaware's fiscal health rankings, download the full paper and the dataset at mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings-2016-edition.