Archive for the ‘South Dakota’ Category

State Financial Health: Alaska, Dakotas on Top, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut on the Bottom

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University released a study today ranking the 50 states on their financial health. Here are the top six states:

1. Alaska (8.26)
2. North Dakota (2.97)
3. South Dakota (2.84)
4. Nebraska (2.75)
5. Florida (2.74)
6. Wyoming (2.67)

These six states have “Fiscal Condition Index” scores that are significantly higher than all the other states. Of course, where there’s good there’s also bad; here are the bottom seven states:

50. Illinois (-1.86)
49. New Jersey (-1.86)
48. Massachusetts (-1.84)
47. Connecticut (-1.83)
46. New York (-1.49)
45. Kentucky (-1.42)
44. California (-1.41)

Why are states ranked low?

High deficits and debt obligations in the forms of unfunded pensions and health care benefits continue to drive each state into fiscal peril. Each holds tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities—constituting a significant risk to taxpayers in both the short and the long term.

Think unfunded pensions and you have one of the huge issues facing states. Illinois leads the way (which isn’t a good thing for the Land of Lincoln). There’s a reality: Whatever you make, spend less. Some states follow that creed; others give it lip service. California may have a “surplus,” but when you look at unfunded pensions things don’t look so good. Sooner or later, that bill will come due.

It’s an interesting analysis, and well worth your perusal.

Bring Me the Usual Suspects: Small Business Policy Index 2013

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

The 18th annual Small Business Policy Index was released almost three weeks ago by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. Congratulations are in order for my home state of Nevada; the Silver State ranked second (behind only South Dakota). Bringing up the rear are the usual suspects.

Here are the top ten states:

1. South Dakota
2. Nevada
3. Texas
4. Wyoming
5. Florida
6. Washington
7. Alabama
8. Indiana
9. Ohio
10. Utah

And the bottom ten:

41. Connecticut
42. Oregon
43. Iowa
44. Maine
45. Minnesota
46. Hawaii
47. New York
48. Vermont
49. New Jersey
50. California

The rankings include a variety of factors, and the Bronze Golden state ranked last in quite a few: personal income tax rates, individual capital gains tax rates, individual dividends and interest tax rates, and state gas taxes. California also has an added S-Corporation tax rate, and both an individual and corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). California ended up with a relative ranking of 113.637; the top state, South Dakota, has a ranking of 34.627. Yes, you’d have to deal with the South Dakota winters, but climate isn’t everything.

As noted in the introduction,

Of the 47 measures included in the 2013 edition of the Index, 22 are taxes or tax related, 14 relate to regulations, five deal with government spending and debt issues, with the rest gauging the effectiveness of various important government undertakings.

It is a comprehensive review. The states that did the best are those with low tax rates, low regulations, and lower spending and government debt.

The conclusion of the report is really presented in the introduction:

Political fantasies involving higher taxes, increased regulation, and much higher levels of government spending and debt, as we have learned at the federal level over the past nearly seven years, do not serve our economy well. The same goes, of course, at the state and local levels.

Best States for Entrepreneurs: South Dakota, Texas, and Nevada Lead the Way

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council released last Monday their 2012 Business Tax Index. There aren’t many surprises when you look at the list of best and worst (at least, for regular readers of this blog). The top seven states have no income tax on individuals. Meanwhile, the usual suspects (with one exception) are on the list of the bottom ten.

First, the top ten:
1. South Dakota
2. Texas
3. Nevada
4. Wyoming
5. Washington
6. Florida
7. Alaska
8. Alabama
9. Ohio
10. Colorado

The bottom ten has a lot of the usual high-tax “Blue” states:
42. Connecticut
43. Hawaii
44. Vermont
45. California
46. Maine
47. Iowa
48. New York
49. New Jersey
50. Minnesota
51. District of Columbia

I was surprised to see Minnesota so low on the list. Minnesota has a high capital gains tax rate; that, combined with its relatively high personal income tax rate, inheritance tax, and the state’s AMT, led to it being near the bottom of the list.

I also need to compliment Michigan. I’ve been down on the state–at times, saying it has been worse than California–but the SBEC ranks the Great Lakes State number 12. Under a Republican governor, Michigan has improved its tax policies.

For those wondering why I’m now in Nevada rather than California, this is just another measure of the problems with the Golden State. Governor Brown and Democrats in the state are discussing measures to further increase the state’s taxes. Well, there are six more spots to go before reaching the top (worst) position!

The SBEC has a nice interactive map showing the 50 states (plus DC); you can view the map here.

Tax Foundation Releases 2012 Business Tax Climate Index; California, New York and New Jersey at the Bottom

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

The Tax Foundation released their 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index today. And it was no surprise to see the bottom three composed of California, New York and New Jersey. These states have high taxes overall (California adds high regulatory costs, too; however, the business climate index ignores this). Meanwhile, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nevada are the top three states. No surprise: These states don’t have high taxes (they don’t have personal or corporate income taxes at all).

Here are the top ten:
1. Wyoming
2. South Dakota
3. Nevada
4. Alaska
5. Florida
6. New Hampshire
7. Washington
8. Montana
9. Texas
10. Utah

And the bottom 10:
41. Iowa
42. Maryland
43. Wisconsin
44. North Carolina
45. Minnesota
46. Rhode Island
47. Vermont
48. California
49. New York
50. New Jersey

For those who wonder if business pay attention to taxes, I can speak from experience: They do.

A Lesson for California from South Dakota

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

California politicians seem to think that they can raise tax rates higher and higher and higher and businesses won’t react. Bluntly, that’s wrong.

From the Leonard Letter and the South Dakota Department of Tourism and Economic Development comes word of a small firearms manufacturer named Bar-Sto Precision Machine. Located in Twentynine Palms (near Palm Springs), Bar-Sto makes auto-pistol barrels primarily for law enforcement. The company employs about 18 individuals.

But the continued increases in state taxes along with California’s high regulatory burden have impacted the privately held firm. Irv Stone, the owner of Bar-Sto, had enough. Instead of continuing in business at a lower profit margin he’s taking action. The business will be relocating to Sturgis, South Dakota.

“South Dakota is really a great place to do business,” said Irv Stone, second-generation owner of Bar-Sto. “The differences in the tax climates between California and South Dakota are night and day, and we have been treated real well by the GOED (Governor’s Office of Economic Development) and the Sturgis Area Economic Development.”

If I were to ask any of the Democratic leaders of the California legislature about Bar-Sto, I’m certain their reaction would be something like, “It’s a shame. But it’s not that relevant; after all, it’s only 18 jobs and they make guns!” Unfortunately, that’s the wrong reaction.

Yes, 18 jobs isn’t that many in California. But those 18 individuals support other wage earners through their purchases at local retailers. The loss of these 18 jobs will cascade through the work force in Twentynine Palms.

And it’s not one firm leaving the Bronze Golden State. One of my clients relocated three years ago from Laguna Hills to Jacksonville, Florida. It was just 15 jobs. Yet you need to multiply the 15 jobs lost then by a large number as more and more businesses realize that there’s a better business climate elsewhere.

There’s a solution, but it’s not one that California’s legislative leaders will like to hear. Regulations need to be cut drastically. Tax rates need to come down. Implement these actions and businesses will want to be in California and employment rates will increase. Continue down the current path—this includes such misguided actions as the current state CO2 regulations—and more and more businesses will leave.

South Dakota has a good business climate but a rather poor actual climate (weather). Yet a second generation business owner is willing to uproot his family and move there just to avoid the high taxes and regulatory burden of California. Many other business owners will likely make similar decisions in the future, choosing nearby states with warmer climates like Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado.