October 9, 2018

#16 | Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition: Montana

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On the basis of its solvency in five separate categories, Montana ranks 16th among the US states for fiscal health. Montana has between 3.98 and 5.26 times the cash needed to cover short-term obligations, well above the US average. Revenues exceed expenses by 5 percent, with an improving net position of $262 per capita. In the long run, Montana has a net asset ratio of 0.22. Long-term liabilities are lower than the national average, at 20 percent of total assets, or $2,247 per capita. Total unfunded pension liabilities that are guaranteed to be paid are $23.23 billion, or 53 percent of state personal income. OPEB are $0.46 billion, or 1 percent of state personal income.Share this

Key Terms

  • Cash solvency measures whether a state has enough cash to cover its short-term bills, which include accounts payable, vouchers, warrants, and short-term debt. (Montana ranks 5th.)
  • Budget solvency measures whether a state can cover its fiscal year spending using current revenues. Did it run a shortfall during the year? (Montana ranks 14th.)
  • Long-run solvency measures whether a state has a hedge against large long-term liabilities. Are enough assets available to cushion the state from potential shocks or long-term fiscal risks? (Montana ranks 13th.)
  • Service-level solvency measures how high taxes, revenues, and spending are when compared to state personal income. Do states have enough “fiscal slack”? If spending commitments demand more revenues, are states in a good position to increase taxes without harming the economy? Is spending high or low relative to the tax base? (Montana ranks 34th.)
  • Trust fund solvency measures how much debt a state has. How large are unfunded pension liabilities, OPEB liabilities, and state debt compared to the state personal income? (Montana ranks 40th.)

For a complete explanation of the methodology used to calculate Montana's fiscal health rankings, download the full paper and the dataset at mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings.

To read all our work on Montana, go to mercatus.org/states/montana.