North Dakota

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Summary

On the basis of its fiscal solvency in five separate categories, North Dakota ranks fourth among the US states and Puerto Rico for its fiscal health. On a cash basis, North Dakota has between 4.97 and 7.17 times the cash needed to cover short-term liabilities. Revenues exceed expenses by 42 percent, producing a surplus of $4,295 per capita. On a long-run basis, net assets are 62 percent of total assets, and total liabilities are 12 percent of total assets. Total debt is $1.60 billion. Unfunded pension liabilities are $8.27 billion on a guaranteed-to-be-paid basis, and other postemployment benefits (OPEB) are $72 million. These three liabilities are equal to 24 percent of total state personal income.

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. (North Dakota ranks 4th.)
  • Budget solvency measures whether a state can cover its fiscal year spending using current revenues. Did it run a shortfall during the year? (North Dakota ranks 3rd.)
  • 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? (North Dakota ranks 10th.)
  • 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? (North Dakota ranks 49th.)
  • 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? (North Dakota ranks 13th.)

For a complete explanation of the methodology used to calculate North Dakota's fiscal health rankings, download the full paper and the dataset at mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings-2016-edition.