State Fiscal Rankings


The financial health of each state can be analyzed through the states’ own audited financial reports. By looking at states’ basic financial statistics on revenues, expenditures, cash, assets, liabilities, and debt, states may be ranked according to how easily they will be able to cover short-term and long-term bills, including pension obligations.

This ranking of the 50 states, reproduced from page 29 of the study, is based on their fiscal solvency in five separate categories:

Cash solvency. Does a state have enough cash on hand to cover its short-term bills?
Budget solvency. Can a state cover its fiscal year spending with current revenues, or does it have a budget shortfall?
Long-run solvency. Can a state meet its long-term spending commitments? Will there be enough money to cushion it from economic shocks or other long-term fiscal risks?
Service-level solvency. How much “fiscal slack” does a state have to increase spending if citizens demand more services?
Trust fund solvency. How large are each state’s unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities?

Top Five States

Florida, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming rank in the top five states. Top-performing states tend to have higher levels of cash, low unfunded pensions, and strong operating positions.

Low debt and a strong cash position help maintain fiscal discipline. Keeping debt levels low, saving cash to pay bills, and maintaining solvent budgets reflect a culture of fiscal discipline. The first-place position of Florida in particular demonstrates that this is possible even with a relatively larger population and and the fiscal pressures that arise from an aging population.
Oil and gas revenues play a role in short-term fiscal health. The top-performing states owe some of their success to unpredictable revenue sources. As oil prices have been declining, however, we see this detrimentally affecting their budgets. Alaska has moved out of the top five, and Wyoming has moved from third to fifth as a result. North Dakota’s revenues also declined and have the potential to impact their future rankings.
Pensions and health care still pose long-term challenges to top-performing states. While these top five 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, especially Wyoming, faces substantial long-term challenges related to its pension and healthcare benefits systems.
The top five states have changed since last year. Alaska and Nebraska dropped out of the top five, allowing Florida and Utah to join. North Dakota and South Dakota improved from fourth and fifth to second and third, respectively, pushing Wyoming down two spots to fifth place.
Bottom Five States

Maryland, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Illinois, and New Jersey rank in the bottom five states, largely a result of the low amounts of cash they have on hand and their large debt obligations. States that fail to address long-term drivers of debt and are not prepared for recessions will continue to rank poorly.

Each state has massive debt obligations. Each of the bottom five states exhibits serious signs of fiscal distress. Their large liabilities and low cash on hand raise serious concerns about their ability to pay bills.
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 due to improvements in budget solvency. Illinois and New Jersey improved slightly but remain in the bottom five. Massachusetts also remains in the bottom five, in slightly worse positions than last year.![fr2017-rank_list|690x388]


I was surprised to find Taxachussets at #48 - even further into the Dem. abyss than California. Illinois sort of speaks for itself, Md. has Baltimore, Kentucky-- well…

With the exception of Kentucky, Louisiana, and West by God Virginia- the bottom ten basket cases are all deep blue. The top 10 are all red- that should tell you a lot. All of the top 20 except for Missouri are red states.

Fla. #1, NV.#14, Texas #23 and Delaware #31 have no state income tax. The worst states are all abusively taxed at highly progressive rates, encouraging sloth, and punishing ambition- no wonder they’re basket cases.


But the potty bill should have NC at #58


What’s your point???


Look up NC HB2. That should explain it.


Yep, that’s it, Transgenders are going to destroy America. Are you secure in your sexual identity??


Go to bed, you need to sleep. Here I thought you were a libertarian but you seem to be more of a left wing hack.


I love it when people can’t pigeon hole me. No partisan hack here. Just an American that thinks alone.


Let me explain then. NC was warned from the moment the knee-jerk HB2 passed that it would destroy our economy. It never happened and we have steadily been rising.


The only thing that’s been steadily rising since the TIC became president is the National Debt clock.


Not really left wing but a flaming progressive in independent clothing.


And that is different from the 10 trillion over the last 8 years how???


You are aware that Obama added more to our national debt than any President in history, right? What did we get from all that debt anyway…besides a crippled military and a new / broken entitlement program?


Ding…Ding…Ding…Ding… You win the prize off of the top shelf young man… how intuitive you are…


While it would be impossible to stop the inertia in the national debt… he has reduced its rise by $100billion since he has been in office and all of it via cutting wasteful our unproductive spending. People want to compare him and Obama which isn’t really like for like because of the bailouts and pandering to ‘save the economy’… but I don’t believe Obama ever set out to outright cut the debt created by the federal government… Of course some peoples ‘unproductive spending’ is someone else’s pork…


It isn’t impossible as one day when investors give the US the finger and refuse to purchase our debt without a risk premium, that inertia will change. People will moan, whine, cry when the freebies disappear. It’s not fair. I paid all my life. It’s a right, none will matter. The gravy train will slow.


Yes I am, and am very critical of that. Obama, following the example of his predecessor who doubled the national debt from 5 trillion to 10 trillion, who followed the example of Reagan who tripled the national debt and got the whole debtor nation status going. Btw, google the debt clock and watch it live. It didn’t stop spinning just because the TIC became pres, and there’s every expectation for another ten trillion to be added.


Whether you agree with where Bush and Reagan spent the money… and least you have some idea of where the money went… Obama… muh… not so much.


Lol, a crippled military, good gawd, just how big does the United States military need to be to make you feel secure??? Do you realize that the United States of America is the sole superpower in the world, hmm? Do you know that the United States military is already occupying the planet, find me another country with forces stationed in 140 countries around the world. Do you know that the United States is still the only country that can pick its army up and deliver it anywhere around the world for battle??? Wtf is causing you people to live in such fear???


A crippled military has nothing to do with size. It has to do with preparedness and equipment. We have very old equipment and naval ships that keep crashing into things.