18 of the top 20 most fiscally sound states have Republican Governors, according to a report that studies the “sum of the cash, budget, long run, and service level solvency indices.” The two with Democratic Governors – Missouri and Montana – are red states that voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney in 2012.
New Jersey came in last, showing that not all Republican Governor’s can turn around the bluest of states. With a liberal streak of his own and a left-wing legislature to work with, Chris Christie’s New Jersey managed to lead the least fiscally sound states list. But he was on an island of his own, as the next 15 fiscally unstable slots all belonged to states with Democratic Governors.
The Top States (1-5): Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming
The Bottom States (50-46): New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, California
Not surprisingly, states that landed on our “Top 5 Conservative States to Live and Work” came in 2nd, 5th, 8th, 20th, and 34th on the list while those on our “Most Liberal States to Live and Work” came in 38th, 39th, 44th, 45th, and 46th.
Top 5 Conservative States in the US
Best Places to Live, Visit, and Work
While there are plenty of great conservative states in the USA, these states rise to the top. Expect a lot of similarities between the states. No state income taxes, low unemployment rates, pro-business atmospheres, and favorable right-to-work legislation are common themes. We also took into account electoral history and the types of conservatives that get elected in each states. So – in no particular order – let’s take a look at the top five conservative states.
Tennessee has no state income tax and low property taxes. Overall, residents pay the third lowest percentage of their income in combined taxes nationwide. The state offsets these low taxes with higher sales taxes. As a result, more than 35% of states taxes are actually paid by non residents. Sounds like smart business to me. Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville-Gatlinburg are all great tourist areas that bring in solid doses of out-of-state dollars. Oh, and did we mention those mountains?
The Pelican state has one of the United States’ best governors in Bobby Jindal. And if he has his way, Louisiana will join the other states on this list in the rare income tax-free club. Like all five states on this list, Louisiana is a right-to-work state and is not ruled by unions. The state unemployment rate is well below the national average, sitting at 5.5% at the start of 2013. Louisiana has also been one of the top states in education reform and has pushed hard for school choice in recent years.
If you are not sure how conservative Wyoming is, why not ask the people who live there? In 2010, a Gallup poll found that self-identified conservatives hit 53% in the state, tops in the country. Wyoming also topped the list of the Tax Foundation’s yearly State Business Climate report. The state enjoys a very impressive 4.9% unemployment rate and very low tax rates across the board. Close to 70% of the state’s revenue comes from non-residents. The state is enjoying an oil and natural gas boom. The state always elects solid conservatives to send to Washington. Wyoming enjoys budget surpluses year in and year out, another common theme of state’s on this list. (And surprisingly, not a common theme with states like California and Illinois that would be on the other end of this list).
South Dakota has no state or income taxes and has the third lowest unemployment rate at 4.4%. Electorally, the state has been moving in the right direction over the last decade. While it only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once since 1940 (LBJ in 1964!), voters in the state have only recently begun to change to a more solid red state. In 2004, conservative John Thune upset Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle. He ran unopposed in 2010. Republicans also netted the state’s lone US House seat when Kristi Noem pulled off an upset in a close race in 2010. She went on to win easily by 15-points in 2012. In 2014, voters will have the chance to clean house and send the states final “blue dog” Democrat, Tim Johnson, packing. While claiming to be a moderate, Johnson was a strong early supporter of Obama and cast a deciding vote for Obamacare. South Dakota ranked second in the Tax Foundation’s 2012 list of most business-friendly states. The state ended their 2012 Fiscal Year with about $50 Million in surplus as governmental agencies spent some $13 million less than they were allowed to.
Texas has a budget surplus of $8.8 billion at the start of 2013. The business-friendly environment (Top 10 ranking by the Tax Foundation) and oil and natural gas boom has kept the unemployment rate well below the national average. By the 2016 Presidential election it will have been four decades since the last time the state voted for a Democrat for President. In 2012, voters in the state delivered a big win for conservatism in the US Senate as Ted Cruz won an easy victory. Plus, I know grandma’s who pack heat in Texas. What gets more conservative than that?