October 9, 2018

#38 | Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition: Hawaii

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On the basis of its solvency in five separate categories, Hawaii ranks 38th among the US states for fiscal health. Hawaii has between 2.22 and 2.91 times the cash needed to cover short-term obligations. Revenues exceed expenses by 5 percent, with an improving net position of $332 per capita. In the long run, Hawaii has a net asset ratio of –0.16. Long-term liabilities are higher than the national average, at 84 percent of total assets, or $12,056 per capita. Total unfunded pension liabilities that are guaranteed to be paid are $44.01 billion, or 61 percent of state personal income. OPEB are $9.07 billion, or 13 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. (Hawaii ranks 18th.)
  • Budget solvency measures whether a state can cover its fiscal year spending using current revenues. Did it run a shortfall during the year? (Hawaii ranks 11th.)
  • 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? (Hawaii ranks 42nd.)
  • 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? (Hawaii ranks 42nd.)
  • Trust fund solvency measures how much debt a state has. How large are unfunded pension liabilities and OPEB liabilities compared to the state personal income? (Hawaii ranks 44th.)

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

To read all our work on Hawaii, go to mercatus.org/states/hawaii.