The U.S. Constitution grants state governments a wide range of powers. Safe streets, a balanced budget, a strong job market, and a growing economy can all come as a result of strategic policy making at the state level. Some states have proven to be more adept than others at achieving these goals.
For the 10th year in a row, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed economic indicators, budget allocations, and state balance sheets, in addition to a range of social measures to rank how well each state is run. Data came from a wide range of public and private sources, including public policy think tank The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Census Bureau.
There are several signs of fiscal mismanagement at the state level, including minimal rainy day fund savings — funds set aside for budget emergencies — and less-than-perfect credit rating scores from ratings agencies. Another common theme among lower-ranking states on this list is an underfunded pension system. Many states are facing a crisis, with pension obligations far outweighing available funds. Here is a look at every state’s pension crisis, ranked.
It is important to note that current economic and social conditions in a given state are often not the result of the work of sitting elected officials. High-level governing strategies and budget priorities can have consequences that extend far beyond the tenure of those who make them. Additionally, some of these conditions are less the result of effective governing and more a product of geography and the presence of natural resources.
How well a state ranks on this list is not always an indication of the likelihood of a high quality of life for the typical resident. Indeed, many of the highest ranking states on this list do not rank among the best states to live in. Here is a full list of the best and worst states to live in.
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