Tag Archives: States

Report: Republican-governed states score highest on fiscal measures

Ranking of states by overall fiscal solvency
Ranking of states by overall fiscal solvency

(Click here for larger map image)

A new report prepared by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University finds that Republican-governed states are the strongest according to five fiscal measures. Democrat-governed states lag far behind. (H/T William)

The report says:

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 and Puerto Rico 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 much debt does a state have? How large are its unfunded pen-sion and healthcare liabilities?

If you look at the map, you’ll notice that most the worst states are run by Democrats, while the best states are run by Republicans.

Investors Business Daily explains:

[W]hile Mercatus makes no mention of the states’ political leanings, every state in the top 10 except for Florida is solidly red, meaning those states voted for the Republican in each of the past four presidential elections (see table). And Florida has had a Republican governor since 1999, and the state House and Senate are both controlled by Republicans.

At the other end of the spectrum, except for Kentucky, the 10 worst states are all solidly blue. And all but two of the governors since 1947 have been Democrats.

Politicians, especially the “pragmatic” ones, are always talking about how they are just interested in what works. When it comes to keeping spending, debt and long-term liabilities under control, the place to look seems obvious.

The conservative approach of lower taxes and limited government is a winner, while big-spending liberalism invariably leads to financial ruin.

Kentucky, of course, is the home state of Mitch McConnell, and only just elected a Republican governor (Matt Bevin) who is a fiscal conservative. Every previous governor of Kentucky since 1971 was a Democrat, except for Ernie Fletcher.

The point here is that the real reason that some Democrat states look good is because they are borrowing money to stay afloat, an piling up debt. The same is true with our illustrious President Obama. He doubled the national debt from 10 to 20 trillion, and he has managed to deliver below average GDP growth and a 38-year-low labor force participation rate. He was the worst President in the history of the country (not just on fiscal issues, but on social issues and foreign policy, too). But, since he added 10 trillion to the debt, he looks OK. We would have had better fiscal performance in the last eight years if we had elected a honeydew melon as President.

How exposed is your state to the problem of underfunded pensions?

I am thinking about moving to a new state in the future, and one of the factors I am considering is underfunded pension liabilities. This basically refers to the ability of a state to pay out pensions to retiring public sector employees going forward. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to solve this problem in this post.

First, Investors Business Daily explains the problem:

A new report by Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Joshua Rauh shows that, unless action is taken soon, many local governments could face bankruptcy because they can’t meet their pension obligations.

[…]The problem is surprisingly simple: States and cities overestimate returns on their pension fund investments, while systematically underfunding them. The result is a growing deficit that will require massive tax hikes or dramatic and painful cuts in government services and promised pensions to public workers.

Rauh’s study looked at 564 state and local pension systems, representing $4.8 trillion in pension liabilities and $3.6 trillion in assets — for an apparent current deficit of just $1.19 trillion.

So far, so good. But Rauh notes the average expected return on pension assets is about 7.6% — which means a doubling every 9.5 years. He calls that assumption “wildly optimistic,” and says a more realistic assumption would be the Treasury bond rate of 3% or lower — less than half the expected return.

Unless pension managers, politicians and voters do something now, the unfunded liabilities of the national system will continue to grow out of control, reaching $3.4 trillion in just 10 years. States and cities across the country would have to raise taxes massively to keep from becoming insolvent.

Right now, state and local governments set aside about 7.3% of revenues for public pensions. To keep the funding gap from exploding and taking down governments across the nation, pension spending would have to rise to  17.5% of revenues on average — roughly equal to a 240% tax increase.

How did things get so bad? Generations of feckless politicians have refused to face down public employee unions, which have negotiated massively expensive pensions for their members while concealing their true cost. Politicians have gone along with it because, heck, it’s not their money and anyway, the problems will take place long after they’re out of office. That’s where we are now.

States and cities will come under intense pressure to raise taxes on local citizens to pay for this travesty. Instead, they should get rid of the public employee unions that have plundered the public for too long and have made local government inefficient, expensive and dysfunctional. If not, they can expect to face the same economy-crippling effects as Detroit, San Bernardino and a number of other cities have — financial insolvency.

Now, obviously states with kick-ass governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin are not going to have the same exposure to such problems as incompetent governors like Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. Scott Walker know how to rein in public sector unions.

Let’s get the numbers to confirm this hypothesis.

Bloomberg has the numbers:

Bloomberg ranked 49 U.S. states based on their pension funding ratios in 2014 under GASB 25. (Delaware is not included because of insufficient data for GASB 25.)

Here are the best states… Wisconsin is 100% funded:

States with the best-funded pension liiabilities
States with the best-funded pension liiabilities

And actually there is a comprehensive analysis of the fiscal solvency of all the states right here from George Mason University.

Here’s the map:

Overall fiscal solvency by state
Overall fiscal solvency by state

I notice that the deep blue states like California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, etc. are just horrible states. No wonder everyone is fleeing them in droves. Socialism doesn’t work. Eventually, the money runs out.

So, if you’re thinking of moving to a new state, look at that. And if you don’t want to move, then vote for governors like Scott Walker who will take on public sector unions – otherwise, you’re headed for a big tax hike in the future, to pay for the big spending liberals of the past.

Unemployment rates are lower and wages are higher in right-to-work states

Map of right-to-work states: Michigan is #24
Map of right-to-work states: Michigan is #24

Previously, we saw that unemployment rates in right-to-work states were MUCH lower than in states that force workers to join unions and pay union dues in order to work.

Curtis sent me this article from Investors Business Daily, which looks at whether wages are lower in states that have right-to-work laws.


The president says right-to-work laws mean “the right to work for less money.” So how does he explain the fact that incomes are up in RTW states while forced unionism is a proven job killer?

Campaigning Monday in Michigan as it stood poised to become the nation’s 24th right-to-work state, President Obama spoke the exact opposite of the truth to union workers at a Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in the birthplace of organized labor.

Is Obama telling the truth?

Let’s see:

According to Michigan’s Mackinac Center, using data taken from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics, private-sector, inflation-adjusted employee compensation in right-to-work states increased by 12% between 2001 and 2011 compared with just 3% over the same period in forced-unionization states.

These good wages came from good jobs. Employment in right-to-work states expanded 2.4% over the same stretch vs. a 3.4% decline in non-right-to-work states. Ironically, Obama is taking credit for jobs created in RTW states.

According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, right-to-work states (excluding Indiana, which passed a RTW law in early 2012) “were responsible for 72% of all net household job growth across the U.S. from June 2009 through September 2012.”

This is why people vote with their feet and move to these states. RTW states experienced large population gains of 15.3% from 2000 to 2010, compared to 5.9% in non-RTW states.

Obama did get one thing right, though, when he said the bills that passed both houses of the Michigan legislature “don’t have to do with economics. They have everything to do with politics.”

The president who fought Boeing’s expansion in RTW South Carolina knows it’s all about his keeping union dues flowing into Democratic coffers and maintaining the plush lifestyles of the union leaders who support him.

The right thing for Republicans to do when they get elected is to cut off all sources of funding for the Democrat Party. Right-to-work laws and school choice promote freedom and diminish the amount of power that left-wing, pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage labor unions can exert. They will have less money, and with less money, they will have less influence on elections. Let the people decide, not the powerful, corrupt labor unions.

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Michigan governor Rick Snyder signs right-to-work bill into law

Map of right-to-work states: Michigan is #24
Map of right-to-work states: Michigan is #24

It’s official – Michigan has enacted a new right-to-work law that will create more jobs and free workers from having to violate their consciences by forcibly supporting pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage policies via their mandatory union dues.

Here’s an interesting article by Byron York in the Washington Examiner, discussing the political significance of this development.


Republicans say the move would not only give current workers the freedom to choose whether to join a union and pay dues but would, more importantly, bring many, many new jobs to Michigan. Rep. Gov. Rick Snyder, who supports the bill, points out that Indiana enacted (after a long and bitter fight) the same kind of law earlier this year. “We’ve carefully watched what’s gone on in Indiana since they passed similar legislation back in February,” Snyder told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren last week, “and they’ve seen a significant increase in the number of companies talking about [bringing] thousands of jobs to their state.”

Of course, the move is not just economic. It’s political, too. Democrats depend on millions — actually, billions — of dollars in support from the forced dues of union members. If that money supply were to dry up, or even just decrease, the Democratic Party would be in serious trouble.

De-funding the unions is the first step to education reform. And Michigan students need education reform very badly. Even 40% of the union workers – who are much more sensible and patriotic than the union bosses – agree with the new law:

Regardless of news reports, the people of Michigan are behind this. A recent poll showed that 51 percent of Michigan voters support right-to-work. Only 41 percent are opposed. In fact, 40 percent of union households supported it. In November, Michigan voters rejected a ballot proposal that would have amended the state constitution to prevent the legislature from passing a right-to-work law and elevated union contracts above state law. The New York Times called it “a test case on enshrining the rights of unions,” and unions spent more than $23 million campaigning for the initiative. It lost by 15 points.

[…][M]aking union dues voluntary makes union organizers less aggressive—they get less financial benefit from organizing new firms, because they cannot force workers to pay them. Union organizing attempts drop 40 percent to 50 percent after states pass a right-to-work law. That in turn attracts business investment. Employers want to know unions will leave them alone if they treat their workers well. As a result, right-to-work states have lower unemployment rates—and more manufacturing jobs.

CNS News reports that only 7% of Detroit public school 8th graders can read at proficiency level.


In the public schools in Detroit, Mich., according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 7 percent of the eighth graders are grade-level proficient or better in reading.

Some public school teachers in the City of Detroit and around the state of Michigan are reportedly taking a vacation or a sick day today to protest right-to-work legislation likely to be approved by the state legislature. Under current law, Michigan public school teachers must pay dues to the teachers’ union. If the right-to-work law is enacted, Michigan public-school teachers will be free to join the union and pay dues to it if they wish, but they will also be free not to join the union and not to pay it dues.

Detroit public-school eighth graders do even worse in math than they do in reading, according to the Department of Education. While only 7 percent scored highly enough on the department’s National Assessment of Educational Progress test in 2011 to be rated “proficient” or better in reading, only 4 percent scored highly enough to be rated “proficient” or better in math.

Statewide in Michigan, only 32 percent of public-school eighth graders scored grade-level proficient or better in reading, and only 31 percent scored grade-level proficient or better in math.

According to this report, over 26,000 students missed school because of the “sick day” protest by the teachers.

Here’s a video of what happens at the protests:

The actual unemployment rate of right-to-work states is 6.7%. Compare that with the 8.7% unemployment rate of forced-unionism states. Jobs are the number one priority right now, and right-to-work means more jobs.

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Michigan approves right-to-work law for private sector unions

Map of right-to-work states: Michigan is #24
Map of right-to-work states: Michigan is #24

Dad sent me this article from Fox News, which reports on how Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state.


Republicans rushed right-to-work legislation through the Michigan Legislature Thursday, drawing raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.

With six-vote margins in both chambers, the House and Senate approved measures prohibiting private unions from requiring that nonunion employees pay fees. The Senate was debating a similar bill, with Democrats denouncing it as an attack on worker rights and the GOP sponsor insisting it would boost the economy and jobs. Separate legislation dealing with public-sector unions was expected to come later.

Because of rules requiring a five-day delay between votes in the two chambers on the same legislation, final enactment appears unlikely until next week. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who previously had said repeatedly that right-to-work was “not on my agenda,” told reporters Thursday he would sign the measures.

[…]In an interview with The Associated Press, Snyder said he had kept the issue at arm’s length while pursuing other programs to bolster the state economy. But he said circumstances had pushed the matter to the forefront.

“It is a divisive issue,” he acknowledged. “But it was already being divisive over the past few weeks, so let’s get this resolved. Let’s reach a conclusion that’s in the best interests of all.”

Also influencing his decision, he said, were reports that some 90 companies had decided to locate in Indiana since that state adopted right-to-work legislation. “That’s thousands of jobs, and we want to have that kind of success in Michigan,” he said.

Do right-to-work states create more jobs than forced-union-dues states, like the Republican governor says?

The radically left-wing Washington Post takes a look at it:

The Facts

We searched the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site to find data on each state’s non-farm, seasonally adjusted employment during the past 10 years. Just as Romney said, right-to-work states have better employment numbers on the whole.

Romney’s camp relied on numbers from the BLS household survey. The data, which his team compiled in July, show that right-to-work states experienced a net gain of 3.6 million jobs during the past decade, while “union states” saw a net loss of 900,000 jobs over the same time span.

The updated BLS numbers are right here.

Unions are a Democrat constituency, and that means that unions support abortion and gay marriage. It is wrong that unions are able to force socially conservative workers to pay dues that are used to elect pro-abortion and anti-marriage leftists. Right-to-work laws protect workers from being forced to support causes that violate their consciences. They can pay the dues if they want to, but they don’t have to. You shouldn’t have to support abortion and gay marriage just so you can work.

Now ask yourself another question. Why would Democrats want to prevent job creation? Could it be that they want more people to be dependent on government for their daily bread, so that they can control them and coerce them into voting for bigger government?

Democrats are the party of dependence, debt and unemployment. They hate jobs, they hate business. That’s why we have seen an explosion of debt, unemployment, taxes and regulations over the last four years, with more to come in the next four. You can’t argue with these numbers, and no amount of spirited teleprompter-reading will change what actually works. And what actually doesn’t work.

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