DALLAS — While debt per capita is lower in Texas than most states, local government debt runs higher than that of other states by a large margin amid growing demand for infrastructure, Comptroller Susan Combs said.
In a speech on Monday, Combs said Texas ranks near the top in local debt per capita among the largest states. Of the country’s 10 largest states, Texas had the fifth-highest combined state and local debt per capita in fiscal 2008, with $8,968, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the nonprofit Tax Foundation.
Among the 10 most populous states, New York was first with $13,872, followed by Illinois at $9,692, Pennsylvania at $9,455 and California at $9,370. Florida trailed Texas with $7,745. Among all states, Alaska was tops with $14,536 combined state and local debt per capita, leaving Texas at 15th place, according to the Tax Foundation.
With no income tax, Texas ranks 45th among all states in state taxes per capita. That comes primarily from sales tax. Local governments levy property taxes and sales taxes. However local school property taxes in so-called “property-wealthy districts” are shared across the state with “property poor districts.”
While state sales tax revenue has continued to increase month-to-month, state officials are anticipating an economic slowdown in 2013.
Lieut. Gov. David Dewhurst, a failed candidate for U.S. Senate, noted estimates that Texas will need to spend $9.4 billion more in the next two-year budget. Most of that is needed to cover the escalating cost of education, Medicaid and prison health care, said Dewhurst, who presides over the state Senate. “We’ll see if we can cut taxes again in 2013, but it looks like it’s going to be a challenge just to balance our budget,” he said.