Is New Mexico really the worst run state in the country?

Another day, another terrible ranking for New Mexico on a list of state successes/failures. According to the website 24/7 Wall Street, New Mexico is the “worst-run state in America.” As the website says:

Debt per capita: $3,468 (22nd highest)
Credit rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA+/Aaa
Unemployment rate: 6.8% (2nd highest)
Median household income: $44,803 (8th lowest)
Poverty rate: 21.3% (2nd highest)

New Mexico is the worst-run state in the country with some of the worst social and economic outcomes. Only a handful of states struggle with similar levels of extreme poverty as New Mexico. More than one in every 10 households in the state earns less than $10,000 each year, the second highest proportion after Mississippi. The state also struggles with one of the nation’s highest violent crime rates. Close to 600 violent crimes are reported each year per 100,000 state residents, one of the highest rates nationwide.

Like a number of other states towards the bottom of this list, more people left New Mexico than arrived from April of 2010 through the middle of last year. Only Illinois reported a larger net population decline over that period.

It is hard to argue with any of that, but I don’t think it is a complete picture (no ranking is). For starters, poverty rates should be adjusted for regional living cost to gain a complete picture of REAL poverty.

Also, I would argue that while government policies can have an impact on violent crime, there are cultural and geographical issues at play as well.

Lastly, it is worth noting that New Mexico has always been poor and always had relatively high crime. Our private sector economy has always been weak. Those who would point at this ranking and blame one politician would be mistaken, but there is no doubt that New Mexico faces some big challenges whether it is really the “worst-run” or not.

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5 Replies to “Is New Mexico really the worst run state in the country?”

  1. The debt per capita figures are also suspect. Presumably they are counting severance tax bond debt, payable only from taxes on the extractive industry, and state general obligation bond debt, payable only from property taxes. At best it is an apples and oranges comparison to issues related to running the state

    1. Thank you for your input David. Do you think our government pension system obligations are factored in? I am certainly not going to claim that this analysis is the “be all, end all.”

  2. It is ridiculous to say NM is the worst run state. California is clearly far worse run. Or Illinois or New York. This is just partisan Susana bashing. There are plenty of policies that would improve NM but the Democrats in lockstep oppose them.

    1. I think the term “worst run” is troublesome. I also agree with you that California has plummeted downward economically. Given the data they used I can see the argument for NM being the “worst run state,” but it has been at that level for decades and those decades of mismanagement have put us in a bad place. Also, as you note, while Gov. Martinez is trying to change things, the Democrats in the Senate have stopped her at every turn.

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