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Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Fiscal Condition? Hawaii Ranks 40th
By Selected News Articles @ 7:46 PM :: 3233 Views :: Hawaii Statistics

How Does Hawaii Compare to Other States?

From Mercatus Center

Hawaii ranks 40th among US states for its fiscal health, based on its fiscal solvency in five separate categories.

See “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition” [2] for a complete explanation of the methodology used to calculate Hawaii’s fiscal health rankings.

1. Hawaii ranks 25th in terms of cash solvency.

Cash solvency measures whether a state has enough cash to cover its short-term bills. The cash ratio is a measure of the amount of liquid cash relative to short-term bills. The quick ratio and current ratio include less liquid forms of cash, such as receivables and investments. A cash or quick ratio greater than one and a current ratio greater than 2 is an indication that the state has enough cash to meet short-term obligations.

  Quick ratio Current ratio
Cash ratio
Hawaii 1.84 2.32 2.47
National average 2.23 3.02 3.37 

2. Hawaii ranks 30th in terms of budget solvency.

Budget solvency measures whether a state can cover its fiscal year spending out of current revenues. Did it run a shortfall during the year? The operating ratio is the proportion of total revenues available to cover total expenses. A ratio greater than one indicates the state has more revenues than expenses. The surplus (deficit) per capita measures the change in net assets divided by state population.

  Surplus (deficit) per capita
Operating ratio
Hawaii 1.03 $221
National average 1.07 $473 

3. Hawaii ranks 42nd in terms of long-run solvency.

Long-run solvency measures whether a state has a hedge against large, long-term liabilities. Are there enough assets available to cushion the state from potential shocks or long-term fiscal risks? The net asset ratio measures the total of restricted and unrestricted assets, or net assets, as a portion of total assets. Net assets are a subset of total assets, which also include capital and government buildings. The greater the level of net assets, the more government has on hand to cover long-term liabilities. The long-term liability ratio represents the proportion of long-term liabilities (outstanding bonds, loans, claims and judgments, compensated employee absences), relative to total assets. A lower long-term liability ratio signifies good fiscal health. Long-term liabilities are also expressed on a per capita basis.

  Long-term liability ratio Long-term liability per capita
Net asset ratio
Hawaii 0 0.62 $7,897
National average 0.03 0.4 $2,768

4. Hawaii ranks 44th in terms of service-level solvency.

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, is a state in a good position to increase taxes without harming the economy? Is spending high relative to the tax base? The three service-level solvency metrics measure the ratio of total taxes, revenues, and income to state personal income. A higher ratio indicates that the state may have difficulties sustaining spending or finding revenues to meet budget commitments.

Tax to income ratio Revenues to income ratio Expenses to income ratio
Hawaii 0.09 0.16 0.16
National average 0.06 0.14 0.13

5. Hawaii ranks 43rd in terms of trust fund solvency.

Trust fund solvency measures how much debt a state has. How large are unfunded pension liabilities, other postemployment benefits (OPEB), and state debt compared to the state personal income? The pension to income ratio measures the risk-adjusted unfunded pension liabilities relative to state personal income. The OPEB to income ratio measures the unfunded OPEB liabilities relative to state income. The debt to income ratio is a measure of the total amount of primary government debt relative to state income. Higher ratios for these metrics indicate that long-term obligations represent a larger share of state income.

  OPEB to income ratio Debt to income ratio
Pension to income ratio
Hawaii 0.42 0.22 0.12
National average 0.29 0.04 0.04

State debt

State debt is calculated from each state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. State debt reports on general obligation (GO) bonds and total primary government debt, which includes GO bonds, revenue bonds, and other debt instruments. The ratio of debt to state personal income measures the total primary government debt to state personal income, a measure of the economy. Total primary government debt is also expressed on a per capita basis.

General obligation bonds Total primary government debt State personal income Ratio of debt to state personal income Total primary debt per capita
Hawaii $5.60 billion $7.46 billion $63.47 billion 11.80% $5,357
National average $6.08 billion $12.60 billion $282.05 billion 4.00% $1,824

Pension liability

Pension liability is calculated from each state’s pension actuarial reports. The unfunded pension liability is based on the expected return on the pension fund’s investment. The market value of the unfunded liability recalculates the value of pension obligations using the risk-adjusted discount rate, or the return on 15-year Treasury bonds, to reflect the legal guarantee associated with benefits. Changing the discount rate reveals the full liability for the plan and also reduces the funded ratio of the plan.

  Funded ratio Market value of unfunded liability    (risk-adjusted discount rate) Market value of funded liability ratio
Unfunded pension liability
Hawaii $8.50 billion 60% $26.78 billion 32%
National average $19.85 billion 70% $78.79 billion 40%

OPEB liability

OPEB liability is calculated from each state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The unfunded OPEB liability is based on the reported numbers provided in state financial reports. Most OPEB plans have few assets set aside to back liabilities; thus the average funded ratio across the states is 11 percent.

Total unfunded OPEB liability Funded ratio
Hawaii $13.67 billion 0%
National average $10.84 billion 11%

  *   *   *   *   *

MAP: Overall Fiscal Solvency

This ranking of the 50 states is based on their fiscal solvency in five separate categories:

  • Cash solvency. Does a state have enough cash on hand to cover its short-term bills?
  • Budget solvency. Can a state cover its fiscal year spending with current revenues? Or does it have a budget shortfall?
  • Long-run solvency. Can a state meet its long-term spending commitments? Will there be enough money to cushion it from economic shocks or other long-term fiscal risks?
  • Service-level solvency. How much fiscal “slack” does a state have to increase spending should citizens demand more services?
  • Trust fund solvency. How much debt does a state have? How large are its unfunded pen­sion and health care liabilities?



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