The Best States rankings from US News & World Report suggests that states with low taxes and Republican leadership tend to have better financial health than states with high taxes and Democratic leadership.
To calculate the rankings, US News asked more than 50,000 people how satisfied they were with 8 government services and where they thought their state should focus its resources. The categories were: healthcare, education, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections, and natural environment.
Survey results suggest Tennessee has the best fiscal stability, followed by Florida and South Dakota. Illinois came in dead last, preceded by New Jersey and Alaska.
Tennessee also topped the list for long-term stability, followed by Indiana and Florida. Florida came in first for short-term stability, followed by South Dakota and Nevada. The very worst states in terms of long-term stability were Illinois, Alaska, and New Jersey. The worst states in terms of short-term stability were Connecticut, Illinois, and New Jersey.
The data clearly suggests that Republican states with low taxes tend to outperform Democratic states with high taxes. As noted in the report, having a large economy does not guarantee fiscal stability. Take California, for example, whose economic clout is equivalent to that of France. California was ranked 42nd overall, 40th for long-term financial health, and 33rd for short-term financial health.
The results of the survey were similar to those of a similar survey published in 2017 by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. That survey, which was designed to gauge each state’s ability to pay bills, avoid budget deficits, meet long-term spending goals, and cover pension liabilities, ranked Florida as the best-run state, followed by North Dakota and South Dakota.
The three worst-run states were New Jersey, Illinois, and Massachusetts. As noted in the report, 21 of the top 25 states were solidly Republican; 20 of the worst 25 states were solidly Democratic.
Also noted in the Mercatus Center report: of the 15 worst states, 10 were among the 15 states with the highest taxes. In other words, governments can’t always tax their way out of financial problems.
While the fiscal stability of a state may depend on federal funds, it is up to that state’s government to ensure those funds are well spent and that government programs succeed. To me, this means Democratic leaders have their priorities out of order.