Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ranking The States By Fiscal Condition, From Top (AK, NE, WY) To Bottom (CT, MA, NJ)

George Mason University Mercatus Center, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition, 2016 Edition:

A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranks each US state’s financial health based on short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations, such as unfunded pen­sions and healthcare benefits. This 2016 edition updates the version the Mercatus Center pub­lished in 2015. Using the approach pioneered in 2015, the 2016 edition presents information from each state’s audited financial report in an easily accessible format, this time including Puerto Rico to provide a benchmark of poor fiscal performance.


Growing long-term obligations for pensions and healthcare benefits continue to strain the finances of state governments, highlighting the fact that state policymakers must be vigilant to consider both the short-term and the long-term consequences of their decisions. Understanding how each state is performing in regard to a variety of fiscal indicators can help policymakers as they consider the consequences of policy decisions.

The study also highlights some of the limits of the financial data reported by state governments. States release these data years after they are most relevant, and because the information is highly aggregated, analysts and the public have difficulty discerning the true fiscal position of any state.

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It's really interesting to view the rankings. I will live in my State, Illinois or CA or NY any day. The educational, cultural, and health outcomes are very highly rated. Now, lets take a look at our neighbor Indiana. Just because they have a balanced check book, doesn't mean anything for quality of life. Their health outcomes and educational attainment are a disaster. Indiana is nothing more than a flat dystopian wasteland of Chick-Fil-A's, Dollar Generals, Walmarts, diabetes clinics, used car lots (90s Saturns, Pontiacs, Hyundai) and a town with the highest STD rate in the country after their governor closed the last remaining Planned Parenthood.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jun 1, 2016 1:18:50 PM

One more thing about Indiana....lots of new jails and prisons in that eye catching red cinder block and green metal roof style. Fiscal competence allows Indiana the funds to lock its citizens up and place bill boards along Illinois' Interstates attempting to poach businesses.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jun 1, 2016 1:35:07 PM

@Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King. Great, Those of us who are pleased with our fiscal condition hope you remain as enamored with yours. We have enough migration as it is!

Posted by: Tom N. | Jun 1, 2016 2:13:15 PM

How come the best 11 are "above average" while the bottom 21 are "below average"? Does that make any sense?

Posted by: Lonnie | Jun 1, 2016 3:25:20 PM

Lonnie, Google the difference between "median" and "mean". Mean is just another way of saying arithmetic average.

Captain, Yes, one can live a much nicer and more interesting lifestyle if one lives above ones means. Until you can't. And if you enjoy living with a large criminal element running around loose, my hat's off to you. Doesn't sound much like Utopia to me though.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Jun 2, 2016 4:47:03 AM

How dare you refer to them as them "criminal elements." They are clients.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jun 2, 2016 6:31:08 AM

That's odd. Louisiana, (#34) has to securitize its unclaimed property receipts into bonds to make ends meet, and runs about a 5% deficit to tax receipts.
California,(#44) on the other hand, runs a budget surplus of over $6 billion --a little more than half of Louisiana's entire tax revenues---and is ranked near the bottom on the "solvency" scale.

It's amazing how much academic prostitution the Koch brothers can buy with their $30 million donation to George Mason.

Posted by: Jim Harper | Jun 2, 2016 10:35:16 AM

Too bad they don't try running this stuff through peer review.

Posted by: mike | Jun 3, 2016 4:03:51 PM