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Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, SQLI, Individual Indicators

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Who Runs the States

Main Report Pages
Main PagePart 1Partisanship InfographicPart 2Part 3

Partisanship Results Report (Part 1)
Executive SummaryState Partisanship AnalysisPartisan Control of GovernorshipsPartisan Control of State LegislaturesPartisan Control of State SenatesPartisan Control of State HousesState Government TrifectasOverall Partisan Control: Bright, Medium and Soft StatesChanges of Partisan Domination over 22 yearsYear-to-Year Changes in State Partisan ControlTrifectas and Presidential Election PatternsConclusionMethodologyAppendix AAppendix B

State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) Report (Part 2)
Executive SummaryState Quality of Life Index (SQLI)About the IndexOverall RankingsDramatic Changes from 1st Half to 2nd HalfIndividual IndicatorsMethodologyAppendices

Partisanship and (SQLI) Overlay Report (Part 3)
IntroductionComparing Partisanship and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) RankingsDescription of the dataTrends and correlationsMethodologyKey Values for Fifty-State RegressionsAppendices
Praise or blame is extended to political parties for the economic, educational, health and other quality of life outcomes that result from the policies those parties enact into law. To better understand which political party enjoys power in each of the states, Ballotpedia has analyzed state government control from 1992-2013 using the concept of a "partisan trifecta." A partisan trifecta is defined as when a state's governorship and legislative chambers are controlled by the same political party.

The two major political parties claim that their policies will lead to better outcomes. What does the data show?

At Ballotpedia, we explored these issues in a three-part study, Who Runs the States.

This page contains the section of Part Two pertaining to the Individual Indicators.

Individual Indicators

Overview

Nineteen states finished as the top overall state, or tied for 1st, for at least one of the 19 individual indicators included within the SQLI. Texas led the way with the lowest level of state spending as percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the top ranking on CNBC’s Top States for Business, and the top spot on Chief Executive’s Best/Worst Governed States. Delaware, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Virginia followed with two top finishes each. Delaware had the highest GDP per capita and was one of seven states with the highest S&P bond rating, and Nebraska had the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio and the lowest unemployment rate. Minnesota had the highest voter turnout and was the top state on America’s Health Rankings, while Virginia took 1st place on the Forbes Best States for Business list and also tied for top bond rating. Fourteen other states finished 1st for only one indicator. All but 13 states finished in the top 5 overall for at least one indicator. Leading all states, Utah had seven finishes in the top five. Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Virginia each made the top-five for five indicators.

The last-place rankings were concentrated among fewer states than the first place rankings. Only 10 states finished last or tied for last for one or more indicators. Mississippi had the lowest levels of real GDP per capita and personal income per capita, the worst ranking for America’s Health Rankings, and the highest poverty rate. Alaska also had four last-place rankings with the highest debt-to-GDP ratio, the last spot for the CNBC Best States for Business, the highest level of state government spending as a percentage of GDP, and a tie for the highest level of unfunded pension liabilities per capita. West Virginia had three 50th-place rankings, while California had two. Six other states placed last for one indicator each. Thirty-three states ranked in the bottom five for at least one indicator. West Virginia had a bottom-five ranking for 12 of the 19 indicators, followed by Mississippi with 9 and Alaska with 6. Thirty other states had between one and five bottom-five rankings.

Three states had both first- and last-place rankings for different indicators. Alaska had the lowest state and local tax burden but the highest level of government spending as percentage of GDP and the worst score for CNBC’s Best States for Business. Connecticut had the highest personal income per capita and the latest Tax Freedom Day in 2012. Wyoming was 24-7 Wall St.’s Best Governed State and had the highest level of government employment as a percentage of its population. See Appendix A for a full chart showing the top and bottom state for each indicator. For the complete rankings, see our full data set.

The following 19 sections provide brief individualized results from each specific indicator. A full explanation of each indicator can be found in the Methodology section.

24-7 Wall St.’s Best and Worst Governed States (2010-2012)

Wyoming took the top spot overall in the 24-7 Wall St.’s Best and Worst Governed States indicator, ranking 1st two years and 2nd one year during the three years of data. California was 50th overall, ranking last two years and 49th one year. Tennessee and Texas improved the most, each rising 23 spots. Tennessee moved from 35th in 2010 to 12th in 2012. Texas moved from 36th to 13th. Hawaii’s ranking declined the most, falling from 10th in 2010 to 38th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 10.58 spots (up or down), an average of 5.29 annually. Hawaii’s ranking had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 28 spots for an annual average of 14 spots. Arizona, California and Wyoming had the least volatile rankings, moving only one spot total for an average of 0.5 moves each year.

America’s Health Rankings® (1992-2012)

Minnesota took the top spot overall for America’s Health Rankings, including 1st place finishes for seven years. Mississippi was 50th overall, finishing last for 11 years and never better than 48th. New York improved the most, moving from 39th in 1992 to 18th in 2012. South Dakota’s ranking declined the most, falling from 12th in 1992 to 27th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 38.94 spots (up or down), an average of 1.95 spots annually. Idaho’s ranking had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 79 spots for an annual average change of 3.95 spots. Mississippi had the least volatile ranking, moving only eight spots total for an average of just 0.4 moves each year.

Figure 8: The bottom 10 states in the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Debt-to-GDP (2005-2011)

Nebraska took the top spot overall for the CAFR[1] Debt-to-GDP indicator, ranking 1st for all seven years of the data. Alaska was 50th overall, ranking last for six years and 49th once. North Dakota improved the most, moving from 45th in 2005 to 31st in 2011. Delaware’s ranking declined the most, falling from 10th in 2005 to 29th in 2011. On average, each state moved a total of 14.44 spots (up or down), an average of 2.41 spots annually. Wyoming’s ranking had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 88 spots for an annual average change of 14.67 spots. Nebraska had the least volatile ranking, as its ranking did not change during the study period.

Chief Executive’s Best and Worst States for Business (2005-2012)

Texas took the top spot overall in the Chief Executive’s Best and Worst States for Business indicator, ranking 1st for all eight years of the data. California was 50th overall, ranking last for all eight years. North Dakota improved the most, moving from 41st in 2005 to 15th in 2012. Illinois’ ranking declined the most, falling from 17th in 2005 to 48th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 27.08 spots (up or down), an average of 3.87 spots annually. Minnesota had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 72 spots for an annual average change of 10.29 spots. Texas, New York and California had the least volatile ranking, not moving any spots.

CNBC’s Top States for Business (2007-2012)

Texas took the top spot overall in CNBC’s Top States for Business indicator, ranking 1st three years and 2nd, behind Virginia, three years. Alaska was 50th overall, finishing last four years and never better than 47th. Arkansas and Wisconsin improved the most, each rising 16 spots. Arkansas moved from 36th in 2007 to 20th in 2012. Wisconsin moved from 33rd in 2007 to 17th in 2012. New Jersey’s ranking declined the most, falling from 15th in 2007 to 41st in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 18.98 spots (up or down), an average of 3.8 spots annually. Pennsylvania had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 53 spots for an annual average change of 10.6 spots. Hawaii and Rhode Island had the least volatile ranking, moving only two spots total for an average of just 0.4 moves each year.

Forbes’ Best States for Business (2006-2012)

Virginia took the top spot overall in Forbes’ Best States for Business indicator, ranking 1st four years and 2nd three years during the seven years of data. Rhode Island was 50th overall, lowered by the last four years in which it did not rank better than 48th. Massachusetts improved the most, moving from 37th in 2006 to 17th in 2012. New Jersey’s ranking declined the most, falling from 16th in 2006 to 36th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 26.72 spots (up or down), an average of 4.45 spots annually. Maryland had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 77 spots for an annual average change of 12.83 spots. Virginia had the least volatile ranking, moving only one spot total for an average of just 0.17 moves each year.

Government employment as percentage of population (1992-2012)

Pennsylvania took the top spot overall in the government employment as percentage of population indicator, meaning it had the lowest percentage. Pennsylvania had 12 1st place finishes, and never fell below 4th. Wyoming was 50th overall, ranking last 18 years and 49th three years. Arizona and Idaho improved the most, each rising 15 spots. Arizona moved from 22nd in 1992 to 7th in 2012. Idaho moved from 36th in 1992 to 21st in 2012. West Virginia’s ranking declined the most, falling from 20th in 1992 to 37th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 18.08 spots (up or down), an average of 0.9 spots annually. New Hampshire had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 34 spots for an annual average change of 1.7 spots. Wyoming had the least volatile ranking, moving only one spot total for an average of just 0.05 moves each year.

High school graduation rate (1992-2012)

North Dakota took the top spot overall in the high school graduation rate indicator, ranking 1st seven years. South Carolina was 50th overall, ranking last 10 years and never finishing better than 47th. Missouri improved the most, moving from 32nd in 1992 to 9th in 2012. Nevada’s ranking declined the most, falling from 19th in 1992 to 50th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 54.46 spots (up or down), an average of 2.72 spots annually. Arizona had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 120 spots for an annual average change of six spots. South Carolina had the least volatile ranking, moving 10 spots total for an average of just 0.5 moves each year.

Figure 9: The top 10 states in the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Personal income per capita (1992-2012)

Connecticut took the top spot overall in the personal income per capita indicator, ranking 1st for all 21 years. Mississippi was 50th overall, ranking last 19 years and 49th two years. North Dakota improved the most, moving from 38th in 1992 to 6th in 2012. Nevada’s ranking declined the most, falling from 11th in 1992 to 37th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 25.44 spots (up or down), an average of 1.27 spots annually. North Dakota had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 78 spots for an annual average change of 3.9 spots. Connecticut had the least volatile ranking, as its ranking did not change during the study period.

Poverty rate (1992-2011)

New Hampshire took the top spot overall in the poverty rate indicator, ranking 1st 14 times, including the last 12 years. Mississippi was 50th overall, ranking last eight times and never better than 43rd. Minnesota and Oklahoma improved the most, each rising 21 spots. Minnesota moved from 25th in 1992 to 4th in 2011. Oklahoma moved from 44th in 1992 to 23rd in 2011. Delaware’s ranking declined the most, falling from 1st in 1992 to 22nd in 2011. On average, each state moved a total of 103.34 spots (up or down), an average of 5.44 spots annually. South Dakota had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 189 spots for an annual average change of 9.95 spots. Mississippi and New Hampshire had the least volatile ranking, each moving 37 spots total for an average of 1.95 moves each year.

Real GDP per capita (1992-2011)

Delaware took the top spot overall in the real GDP per capita indicator, ranking 1st 12 years and second the other eight years. Mississippi was 50th overall, ranking last 11 times and never better than 48th. North Dakota improved the most, moving from 38th in 1992 to 7th in 2011. Hawaii’s ranking declined the most, falling from 4th in 1992 to 21st in 2011. On average, each state moved a total of 26.44 spots (up or down), an average of 1.39 spots annually. Oregon had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 77 spots for an annual average change of 4.05 spots. Connecticut had the least volatile ranking, moving only two spots total for an average of just 0.11 moves each year.

State credit rating (2001-2012)

Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah and Virginia tied for the top spot overall in the State credit rating indicator by maintaining the highest credit rating for each of the 12 years. California was 50th overall, ranking last for the last four years of the data and never better than 46th. North Dakota improved the most, moving from 38th in 2001 to 14th in 2012. Michigan’s ranking declined the most, falling from 1st in 2001 to 45th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 22.36 spots (up or down), an average of 2.03 spots annually. New Jersey had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 74 spots for an annual average change of 6.73 spots. Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah and Virginia had the least volatile ranking, not moving any spots.

State government spending-to-GDP (1992-2011)

Texas took the top spot overall in the state government spending-to-GDP indicator, ranking 1st 10 years and never lower than 3rd. Alaska was 50th overall, ranking last 15 years and never better than 48th. North Dakota improved the most, moving from 45th in 1992 to 26th in 2011. Arkansas’ ranking declined the most, falling from 28th in 1992 to 43rd in 2011. On average, each state moved a total of 35.62 spots (up or down), an average of 1.87 spots annually. Louisiana had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 85 spots for an annual average change of 4.47 spots. West Virginia had the least volatile ranking, moving only four spots total for an average of just 0.21 moves each year.

State and local tax burden (1992-2010)

Alaska took the top spot overall in the state and local tax burden indicator, ranking 1st all 19 years of the data. New York was 50th overall, ranking last all 19 years of the data. Arizona improved the most, moving from 28th in 1992 to 11th in 2010. Arkansas’ ranking declined the most, falling from 15th in 1992 to 36th in 2010. On average, each state moved a total of 33.08 spots (up or down), an average of 1.84 spots annually. North Dakota had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 72 spots for an annual average change of four spots. Alaska and New York had the least volatile rankings, as their rankings did not change throughout the study period.

Tax Freedom Day® (2012)

Tennessee took the top spot overall in the Tax Freedom Day indicator. It ranked 1st in 2012, the one year of data used for this indicator. Connecticut was 50th overall. Only one year of data was available for this dataset.

Unemployment rate (1992-2012)

South Dakota took the top spot overall in the unemployment rate indicator, ranking in the top three 18 of the 21 years. California was 50th overall. Although California never ranked last for a single year, it placed between 46th and 49th for 14 of the 21 years. Massachusetts improved the most, moving from 45th in 1992 to 16th in 2012. North Carolina’s ranking declined the most, falling from 15th in 1992 to 46th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 78.76 spots (up or down), an average of 3.94 spots annually. Massachusetts had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 125 spots for an annual average change of 6.25 spots. South Dakota had the least volatile ranking, moving 27 spots total for an average of just 1.35 moves each year.

Unfunded pension liabilities due per capita (2009-2011)

Wisconsin took the top spot overall in the unfunded pension liabilities due per capita indicator, ranking 1st one year and 2nd the other two years of data. It was 2nd in 2009 and 2010, followed by 1st overall in 2011 -- meaning it had the lowest unfunded pension liabilities per capita of any state. Alaska and Illinois tied for last overall in the indicator by tying for last in each of the three years. Georgia improved the most, moving from 34th in 2009 to 12th in 2011. Michigan’s ranking declined the most, falling from 23rd in 2009 to 37th in 2011. On average, each state moved a total of 6.32 spots (up or down), an average of 3.16 spots annually. Wyoming had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 41 spots for an annual average change of 20.5 spots. Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois and Kansas had the least volatile ranking, not moving any spots.

Voter turnout (1992-2012)

Minnesota took the top spot overall in the voter turnout indicator, ranking 1st in each of the last 18 years of the data. West Virginia was 50th overall. Although West Virginia never ranked last for a single year, it did not place better than 44th during the 21 years of data. North Carolina improved the most, moving from 46th in 1992 to 11th in 2012. Utah’s ranking declined the most, falling from 15th in 1992 to 38th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 79.4 spots (up or down), an average of 3.97 spots annually. Hawaii had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 253 spots for an annual average change of 12.65 spots. Minnesota had the least volatile ranking, moving only 9 spots total for an average of just 0.45 spots each year.

Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® (2008-2012)

Hawaii took the top spot overall in the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index, ranking 1st four years and 2nd one year during the five years of data. West Virginia was 50th overall, ranking last four years and 48th one year. Vermont improved the most, moving from 27th in 2008 to 5th in 2012. Alaska and New Mexico’s ranking declined the most, each falling 20 spots. Alaska fell from 11th in 2008 to 31st in 2012. New Mexico fell from 5th in 2008 to 25th in 2012. On average, each state moved a total of 17.46 spots (up or down), an average of 4.37 spots annually. Wyoming had the most year-to-year changes, moving a total of 45 spots for an annual average change of 11.25 spots. Hawaii and Kentucky had the least volatile ranking, each moving only one spot total for an average of just 0.25 spots each year.

See also

External links

Footnotes

  1. A CAFR is a thorough and detailed presentation of a state's financial condition. It reports on the state's activities and balances for each fiscal year.