A new study from the Mercatus Center uncovered some pretty shocking information that many conservatives already suspected but had no real way of proving. Now, we have the proof.
The latest version of George Mason Univeristy’s Mercatus’ Center study ranking the fiscal health of each and every state based on short-term and long-term debt, unfunded pensions, and healthcare benefits has some pretty telling news for Americans everywhere.
The ten most financially sound states in the country are all heavily Republican, while all but one of the ten worst states are heavily Democratic.
In fact, it gets even better. Of the top 25 most financially sound states, all but one (#24 Washington State) could be considered Republican-leaning (at the very least)!
Why are the top 5 and bottom 5 states ranked where they are?
TOP FIVE STATES
Alaska, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota rank in the top five states.
- Pensions and health care will continue to be long-term challenges. While these states are considered fiscally healthy relative to other states because they have significant amounts of cash on hand and relatively low short-term debt obligations, each state faces substantial long-term challenges related to its pension and healthcare benefits systems.
- Unpredictable revenue sources may play a role in short-term fiscal health. The top-performing states owe some of their success to unpredictable revenue sources. Since the most recent data is from fiscal year 2014, it appears as though these states are very well off, but declining oil prices and the budget crises that are currently unfolding in Alaska and other oil-producing states highlight the danger of expanding revenue based on volatile revenue sources.
- The top five states have changed since last year. Wyoming moved from sixth place last year to third place this year, pushing Florida out of the top five. The four remaining states were in the top five last year, but this year Nebraska moved to second place, demoting North Dakota and South Dakota.
BOTTOM FIVE STATES
Kentucky, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut rank in the bottom five states, largely owing to the low amounts of cash they have on hand and their large debt obligations.
- Each state has massive debt obligations. Each of the bottom five states exhibits serious signs of fiscal distress, making these states’ debt levels look more like Puerto Rico’s. Though the states’ economies may be stronger than Puerto Rico’s, allowing them to better navigate fiscal crises, their large debt levels still raise serious concerns.
- Unfunded liabilities continue to be a problem. High deficits and debt obligations in the forms of unfunded pensions and healthcare benefits continue to drive each state into fiscal peril. Each holds tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities—constituting a significant risk to taxpayers in both the short and the long term.
- The bottom five states have changed since last year. Kentucky’s position has declined, placing it in the bottom five this year. New York is no longer in the bottom five. New Jersey and Illinois improved slightly, but remain in the bottom five. Connecticut and Massachusetts also remain in the bottom five, in slightly worse positions than last year.
So, what’s the big takeaway? Investors.com says it best, “The conservative approach of lower taxes and limited government is a winner, while big-spending liberalism invariably leads to financial ruin.”
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