Best and Worst Run States in America: A Survey of All 50

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41. Kansas
> 2017 unemployment: 3.6% (15th lowest)
> Pension funded ratio: 65.1% (21st lowest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +0.2% (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.9% (21st lowest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa2/Stable

Under former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who implemented a policy of steep income tax reductions, Kansas has had multiple years of budget shortfalls since 2012. While state lawmakers overrode Brownback’s policy in 2017, a move that resulted in a revenue surplus, Kansas remains one of only a handful of states with no money set aside in a rainy day fund. In January, Democrat Laura Kelly will take the governor’s office from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who took office when Browback accepted an ambassadorship. Kelly ran on a platform of rejecting Brownback’s tax policies.

From mid-2016 to mid-2017, about 8,000 more people left Kansas than moved to the state, likely contributing to a declining workforce and sluggish economic growth. Over the last four years the number of people working or looking for work in Kansas fell by 0.5%, even as the labor force expanded in most states. The state’s economy grew by just 0.2% in 2017, a fraction of the 2.2% national GDP growth.

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42. Missouri
> 2017 unemployment: 3.8% (19th lowest)
> Pension funded ratio: 76.7% (16th highest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +0.9% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.4% (21st highest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aaa/Stable

Missouri has some of the lowest taxes of any state. The state collected the equivalent of just $2,010 per capita in 2016, more than $800 below the average across states. Lawmakers in the state have continually cut taxes in recent years, and now Missouri could be facing a budget shortfall next year. Currently, the state has the equivalent of just 3.1% of its budget saved in a rainy day fund, less than half the average amount among all states. The state’s debt load is equal to 57.8% of its total revenue, slightly more than the 54.3% average debt-to-revenue ratio across all states.

Economic growth is also sluggish in the state. In 2017, Missouri’s economy expanded by just 0.9%, less than half the 2.2% national GDP growth.

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43. Kentucky
> 2017 unemployment: 4.9% (11th highest)
> Pension funded ratio: 31.4% (2nd lowest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +1.7% (24th highest)
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (5th highest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa3/Stable

One of the poorest states in the country, Kentucky’s 17.2% poverty rate is well above the 13.4% national rate. Financial hardship would likely be less common if the state’s job market were healthier. Last year, 4.9% of workers in Kentucky were unemployed, one of the higher jobless rates among states.

Kentucky has also done a relatively poor job managing its own finances with the future in mind. Along with New Jersey, Kentucky is one of only two states with funding for less than one third of its pension obligations. Additionally, Kentucky has the equivalent of just 0.6% of its annual budget saved in a rainy day fund.

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44. Illinois
> 2017 unemployment: 5% (8th highest)
> Pension funded ratio: 35.6% (3rd lowest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +0.4% (13th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.6% (24th lowest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Baa3/Stable

Few states face budget a crisis as severe as that of Illinois. Illinois effectively has no money set aside in a rainy day fund, and only has enough funding to meet 35.6% of its pension obligations. The state also has enormous debt obligations, equal to 87.2% of its total revenue. As result, Illinois has the lowest Moody’s credit rating of any state.

Hampered by political gridlock, Illinois passed its first budget in two years in 2017. According to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, the state budget for fiscal 2019, which passed early this year, is out of balance by as much as $1.2 billion. Because of its high debt load, Illinois spends 5.1% of its annual budget on interest payments, more than twice the national average.

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45. Oklahoma
> 2017 unemployment: 4.3% (25th highest)
> Pension funded ratio: 71.9% (24th highest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +0.7% (15th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.8% (8th highest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa2/Stable

Oklahoma is one of many states with a heavily energy-dependent economy to rank among the worst-run. Oklahoma is one of the top five petroleum producing states and, due in large part to the recent decline in oil prices, economic growth is sluggish in Oklahoma. The state’s GDP grew by just 0.7% in 2017, well below most states’ growth and the national economic growth of 2.2%.

Oklahoma is also a relatively dangerous state. There were 456 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the state in 2017, compared to the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000.