Government Finances and the “Quality of Life”

The Lucy Burns Institute launched its Ballotpedia initiative in 2009.  Ballotpedia provides a comprehensive guide to state politics.  Ballotpedia recently published Part 2 of its “Who Runs The States” report, which introduced its “State Quality of Life Index” (SQLI). The SQLI ranks states based on 19 indicators of economic, health, business and government conditions. Ballotpedia has compiled data for these indicators for all 50 states, going back 20 years.

The chart above shows the change in Ballotpedia’s SQLI (State Quality of Life Index) over the past 20 years (on the left or “y-axis”), relating it to Truth in Accounting’s (TIA’s) “Taxpayer Burden” measure (on the bottom or “x-axis”). States with lower current debt loads tend to show improvement in their SQLI, while states with higher current debt loads tend to show deterioration in their SQLI.

For example, there were eight states with a double-digit decline in their SQLI ranking over the past 20 years. The average current TIA Taxpayer Burden for these eight states comes to roughly $29,000. This is nearly ten times as high as the average Taxpayer Burden of $3,300 for the nine states with a double-digit increase in their SQLI ranking.

The nine states with a double-digit increase in their SQLI ranking were Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Utah, Idaho, North Dakota, North Carolina, and Texas. The eight states with a double-digit decline in their SQLI ranking were Michigan, Delaware, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Connecticut, and Nevada.

Conversely, when ranking the 50 states on TIA’s Taxpayer Burden, nine of the ten states with the lowest Taxpayer Burden saw improvement in their SQLI rank. Eight of the ten states with the highest Taxpayer Burdens saw deterioration.

We look forward to studying the relationships between TIA’s methodology and Ballotpedia’s SQLI, as well as the upcoming Part III of Ballotpedia’s “Who Runs the States” report.

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