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Two new studies agree: Utah is among the nation's top five state governments for its financial condition.
"Utah's strong fiscal position is due to solid numbers across the board. It has adequate cash on hand and sound budgeting relative to other states. Long-term liabilities are also low by national standards," the Mercatus Center study said.
"On a short-run basis, Utah has between 4.05 and 10.07 times the cash needed to cover short-term obligations," the study said.
It noted that Utah ranked in the top 15 of every category it measured, except for trust-fund solvency which compares state pension and other debts with residents' income. Utah ranked 23rd in that category.
Utah's ranking in that study rose from No. 7 last year. The only states to rank higher were Florida, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The bottom five states in that study were New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Maryland.
The Pew study looked at how well long-term revenues covered costs between 2002 and 2015. While the Great Recession led to deficits by all but one state (Montana) in at least some years in that 14-year period, that was balanced out by most states building and using surpluses in other years as rainy day funds.
Utah's total revenue over that time as a share of its total expenses was 109.9 percent well above the national average of 102 percent, according to the Pew report.
The only states that did better were: Alaska (137.5 percent), Wyoming (129.3 percent), North Dakota (122.9 percent) and Montana (111.2 percent). "These resource-rich states use some of the large surpluses they acquire in boom years to help cushion shortfalls when oil or mining revenue declines," the study said.
Pew found that 11 states spent more than they raised over the 14-year period, "jeopardizing their long-term flexibility and pushing off to future taxpayers some costs for operating government and providing services."
The 11 states that spent more than they raised were: New Jersey (92.4 percent); Illinois (94.3 percent); Hawaii and Massachusetts (96.2 percent each); Connecticut (97 percent); California (97.6 percent); Maryland (98.6 percent); Kentucky (98.9 percent); New York (99 percent); Michigan (99.7 percent) and Pennsylvania (99.8 percent).
The study said New Jersey and Illinois were the only states to have annual deficits in each of the 14 years studied.