What's the Best-, Worst-Run State?


The good news: Idaho isn't last on a list ranking how well the states are run. The bad news: It sure isn't first. Actually, it isn't even in the top half.

Website Wall Street 24/7 released its ranking for how well the states are run based on each state's financial health—including its debt and credit score—as well as how each state used what it had to provide residents with a high standard of living—including access to health insurance, the employment rate, crime rate and quality of its public education system. Basically, the study held the states up to the model of a successful business.

Coming in at No. 1 this year is our neighbor to the east, Wyoming. It's the second time the Equality State has topped the list based partly on it's 92.3 percent high-school graduation rate, low rate of violent crime, and having the sixth-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 5.8 percent. The state also has the seventh-lowest percentage of the population living below the poverty line—10.3 percent.

Rounding out the Top 10 are No. 2, Nebraska—low debt, AAA credit score, 4.2 percent unemployment, high graduation rate; No. 3, North Dakota—3.5 percent unemployment and a $1 billion surplus; No. 4, Minnesota—high graduation rate, high health-insurance coverage, low debt; No. 5, Iowa—high graduation and insurance-coverage rates; No. 6, Utah—low crime, high graduation; No. 7, Vermont—high graduation and health-insurance coverage rate; No. 8, Virginia—low poverty and crime rates; No. 9, Kansas—low debt and unemployment; and No. 10, South Dakota—low unemployment and home-foreclosure rates.

And Idaho? Well, Idaho lands at No. 26 on the list with a per-capita debt of $2,284 (the 16th lowest in the nation); 17.7 percent of residents without health insurance (the 11th highest), 14.3 percent of the population living below the poverty line (the 23rd highest) and 9 percent unemployment (the 19th highest.)

Here's what the ranking had to say about the Gem State:

Idaho has the seventh-lowest violent crime rate in the country, a manageable debt per capita and a AA+ credit rating. Otherwise, the state leaves much to be desired. It has the 11th highest rate of residents without health-insurance coverage. It also had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country last month. On a state and local level combined, Idaho spends less per capita than any state in the country on its population.

Still, it could be worse—Idaho could be in the bottom five. That honor belongs to: No. 46, Nevada—low credit score, highest foreclosure rate, low health-insurance coverage rate and high unemployment; No. 47, Arizona—massive foreclosure rate, low credit score, high unemployment and poor health-insurance coverage; No. 48, Michigan—low credit score, high violent crime, unemployment and foreclosure rates, and low high-school graduation rates; No. 49, Illinois—low credit score, high debt and unemployment; and (drumroll, please), No. 50, California.

So, what did California do to earn the title as worst-run state in the union? It has the worst credit score in the country, spent plenty of money per capita, but still has the second-lowest number of residents with a high-school diploma, the second-highest home foreclosure rate, the eighth-highest percentage of residents without health insurance and the second-highest unemployment rate at 11.9 percent.

Here's how other Western states fared:
Hawaii, No. 12
Washington, No. 17
Alaska, No. 18
Montana, No. 27
Oregon, No. 31
Colorado, No. 33
New Mexico, No. 41