24/7 says it “reviewed taxes, exports, and GDP growth, including a breakdown by sector, to identify how each state is managing its resources. We looked at poverty, income, unemployment, high school graduation, violent crime and foreclosure rates to measure if residents are prospering.” The poorly-run states also have “high debt relative to both income and expenditure.” No doubt Illinois fails on that count.
Here’s 24/7’s indictment of our state’s management:
> Debt per capita: $4,790 (11th highest)
> Budget deficit: 40.2% (2nd largest)
> Unemployment: 9.8% (tied-10th highest)
> Median household income: $53,234 (18th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 15.0% (25th highest)
Although many states have budget issues, Illinois’ faces among the biggest problems. In 2010, the state’s budget shortfall was more than 40% of its general fund, the second-highest of any state. Both S&P and Moody’s gave Illinois credit ratings that were the second-worst of all states. In addition, the state only funded 45% of its pension liability in 2010, the lowest percentage of any state. Governor Patrick Quinn has made the now-$85 billion pension gap a top priority for the new legislative session beginning in January.
To be fair, you have to look at 24/7’s full lists of best- and worst-managed states. The best-managed are North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah and Iowa -- small, homogenous entities without urban problems. Those states are easy to manage. The worst are California, Rhode Island, Illinois, Arizona and New Jersey -- big states with big budgets and big, unruly cities.
If 24/7 graded governors on a curve, Illinois might not look so bad.