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What Just Happened to Our No. 2 and 3 Ratings?
State officials took some pride when the Tax Foundation’s 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index listed us third best in America, but cable TV network CNBC, the latest pulse-taker of states, isn’t as exuberant.
In its recently released America’s Top States for Business, Nevada comes in 29th overall, ranking an embarrassing 49th in CNBC’s education category, but a passable 14th in workforce.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, however, just loves us, ranking us 8th in the nation in its latest Rich States, Poor States report.
After raking us over 200 policy variables, Mercatus Center at George Mason University had us 20th overall in its Freedom in the 50 States report. “On fiscal policy the state now ranks slightly worse than average after slipping significantly between FY 2008 and FY 2010 in every fiscal category, due in part to a severe decline in personal income during the recession. Debt is now two standard deviations higher than the national average (at 29.1 percent of income), while taxes are now slightly higher than average (at 9.7 percent of income). Government spending and employment and fiscal decentralization still rank better than average.”
The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council had us second best in the nation in its last report. The Fraser Institute wasn’t as kind in its last Economic Freedom in North America report, placing us at 16th (15th if you exclude the Canadian province of Alberta). And Forbes magazine gave Nevada the worst rating of these state rankings: 36th.
What’s going on here?
Proceed With Caution
“Do not place too much stock in any of these state rankings,” warns economist William J. Dennis, NFIB’s senior research fellow. “They are only a set of arbitrary indicators, and some are very bad. They also fail to take into account the varying needs from business to business. For instance, if I manufacture aluminum, the cost of electricity is everything to me. If that cost is too high, even living in a low-tax state is of minimal help to me. Another example: How do you really measure a regulatory climate, by the number of pages in the state code? Considerations like these are the reason NFIB has never come up with a state-ranking index of its own. There are just too many components to accurately measure a state.”
Added Randi Thompson, NFIB’s Nevada state director: “Want to know where Nevada really ranks? Ask NFIB members. They’re here on Main Street dealing with the laws and policies that govern our state every day on the most retail level. I single out NFIB members from other small-business owners, because they have a history of a greater commercial, civic and governmental involvement, and, as a result, the knowledge that brings a much more informed opinion to public discourse.”