New York

Contact us
To speak with a scholar or learn more on this topic, visit our contact page.

How Does New York Compare to Other States?

New York ranks 46th among US states for its fiscal health, based on its fiscal solvency in five separate categories.

With barely sufficient cash to cover short-term spending, New York’s fiscal position showed several areas of stress. While the state was able to match revenues and expenses, a small deficit was reported during the fiscal year. On a long-run basis, liabilities accounted for 63 percent of the state’s total assets. Unfunded pension liabilities amounted to $251 billion, with unfunded OPEB liabilities adding a further $67 billion. Total primary government debt added more than $57 billion, representing 5.4 percent of state personal income. 

See “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition” for a complete explanation of the methodology used to calculate New York’s fiscal health rankings. 

1. New York ranks 43rd in terms of cash solvency.

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. In FY 2013 New York had 59 percent of the most liquid forms of cash on hand to cover short-term liabilities. When including more liquid forms of cash, New York’s position improved, with sufficient cash available to cover these bills. However, the state fell short of the national average for all measures of cash available to cover short-term liabilities. 


Cash ratio

Quick ratio

Current ratio

New York




National average




2. New York ranks 45th in terms of budget solvency.

Budget solvency measures whether a state can cover its fiscal year spending out of current revenues. Did it run a shortfall during the year? In FY 2013 New York’s revenues equaled its expenses, though the state showed a small deficit of $17 per capita.


Operating ratio

Surplus (deficit) per capita

New York



National average



3. New York ranks 45th in terms of long-run solvency.

Long-run solvency measures whether a state has a hedge against large long-term liabilities. Are there enough assets available to cushion the state from potential shocks or long-term fiscal risks? A negative net asset ratio indicates that New York’s assets fell short by 30 percent in FY 2013. (Net assets are those left over after the government has paid its debts. They are a subset of total assets, which also include capital and government buildings. The net asset ratio measures the total of restricted and unrestricted assets, or net assets, as a portion of total assets.) New York’s long-term liabilities represented 63 percent of total assets; they were $4,616 per capita, nearly twice the national average. 


Net asset ratio

Long-term liability ratio

Long-term liability per capita

New York




National average




4. New York ranks 39th in terms of service-level solvency.

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? New York’s total taxes were 6 percent of total state personal income in FY 2013. At 15 percent each, total revenues and expenses were more than double the total taxes, indicating that New York relied heavily on nontax sources to cover spending.


Tax to income ratio

Revenues to income ratio

Expenses to income ratio

New York




National average




5. New York ranks 21st in terms of trust fund solvency.

Trust fund solvency measures how much debt a state has. How large are unfunded pension liabilities, other postemployment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, and state debt compared to the state personal income? New York’s total unfunded pension liabilities represented 23 percent of state personal income on a guaranteed-to-be-paid basis. (Pension benefits are recalculated based on a discount rate of 3.38 percent to account for the government’s guarantee to pay employees earned benefits.) OPEB and debt accounted for a further 6 percent and 5 percent of total state personal income, respectively.  


Pension to income ratio

OPEB to income ratio

Debt to income ratio

New York




National average




State debt

State debt is calculated from each state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. In FY 2013 New York’s total bonded indebtedness amounted to more than $57 billion, or 5.4 percent of state personal income and $2,946 per capita.

General obligation bonds

Total primary government debt

State personal income

Ratio of debt to state personal income

Total primary debt per capita

New York

$3.69 billion

$57.65 billion

$1,070.24 billion



National average

$6.08 billion

$12.60 billion

$282.05 billion



Pension liability 

Pension liability is calculated from each state’s pension actuarial reports. When calculated on a guaranteed basis, New York’s total unfunded pension liability was $251 billion, far larger than the reported $30 billion.

Unfunded pension liability

Funded ratio

Market value of unfunded liability (risk-adjusted discount rate)

Market value of funded liability ratio

New York

$30.84 billion


$251.25 billion


National average

$19.85 billion


$78.79 billion


OPEB liability 

OPEB liability is calculated from each state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. New York’s OPEB liability totaled more than $67 billion, which was higher than the national average as a percentage of personal income in the state. This liability was unfunded, placing the system on a pay-as-you-go basis.


Total unfunded OPEB liability

Funded ratio

New York

$67.71 billion


National average

$10.84 billion