Black Cars Evil, California wins Worst State for the Week

We read with great amusement the post on Tech Crunch concerning California’s proposal to regulate the color of cars its population can own.

Its bad enough California population is over taxed and over regulated.  Now the state government is proposing to control the colors of cars with regs starting in 2012 and fully being implemented by 2016.

Read the full piece here:

California wins our Worst State of the Week.

Photo Source:  Techcrunch.com
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Best and Worst States for Child Homelessness: Is the data believable?

A “study” from the National Center of Family Homelessness was released this week and garnered national press.  It reported that 1 out of every 50 children were homeless during the “study” period of 2005-2006.  In addition it was reported over 1,500,000 children were homeless during the “study” period. The “study” also ranked the Best and Worst States.

We view the “data” as suspect and exaggerative. 

The “study” defines homelessness in such a way that many quality families and successful parents’ children were determined to be homeless in 2005-2006.  Let’s start with a few key parts of the definition of homelessness from the “study.”

Your children would be determined to be homeless if for just one day during the “study” period they were:

“• Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as doubled-up);
• Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations;”
Source: The National Center of Family Homelessness

Let’s look at the example of an executive who gets a new job and sells his home in the state he used to work.  If the family lives in an extended stay hotel in their new state while waiting to close on their new home, the children are determined to be homeless.   Suspect data to me.

In addition, if a young couple lives with in-laws, which is highly common, the children can be determined to be homeless.

If your family lives in a trailer park, the children can be considered homeless according to the definition.

Of the 1,500,000 children that were determined “homeless” by the “study” here is the breakdown:

Doubled-Up (56%)
Shelters (24%)
Unknown/Other (10%)
Hotels/Motels (7%)
Unsheltered (3%)

Source: The National Center of Family Homelessness

63% of “homeless” children are either staying with other families or living in hotels! Only 37% are in the other classifications.   I would like to thank Tom Palmer for breaking this story.  He makes some additional great points on his blog.  www.tomgpalmer.com

The Worst State for Child Homelessness from the “study” is Texas.  The Best State is Connecticut.

The state rankings follow.  Read them with caution.

1 Connecticut
2 New Hampshire
3 Hawaii
4 Rhode Island
5 North Dakota
6 Minnesota
7 Wisconsin
8 Massachusetts
9 Maine
10 Vermont
11 Iowa
12 South Dakota
13 Illinois
14 Pennsylvania
15 West Virginia
16 New Jersey
17 Virginia
18 Maryland
19 Delaware
20 Ohio
21 Wyoming
22 Alaska
23 Idaho
24 Tennessee
25 Washington
26 Oregon
27 Missouri
28 Kansas
29 Michigan
30 Indiana
31 Oklahoma
32 Alabama
33 Montana
34 Nebraska
35 Colorado
36 Arizona
37 Utah
38 New York
39 South Carolina
40 California
41 Mississippi
42 Kentucky
43 Florida
44 North Carolina
45 Nevada
46 Louisiana
47 New Mexico
48 Arkansas
49 Georgia
50 Texas

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Cost of Living by State, Tennessee the Best, Hawaii Worst

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) has some valuable information on the the cost of living for each State.

The Best States for Cost of Living are Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri and Arkansas.

The Worst States for Cost of Living are Hawaii, DC, California, New Jersey and Alaska.

Map below for cost of living is courtesy of MERIC.

The Best States for Housing Costs are Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Dakota, Texas and Missouri.

The Worst States for Housing Costs are Hawaii, DC, California, Maryland and New Jersey.

If you are looking for the Best State to Retire, the cost of living is a very important consideration.  If you want to stretch your dollar, look to the Southeast and Midwest and stay away from the North East.  Hope this helps.

Cost of Living Annual Map

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Best and Worst States for Mortgage Rates, Georgia Best, Illinois Worst

Best and Worst States for Mortgage Rates

Zillow Interest Rate Monitor released yesterday the Best and Worst States for Mortgage Rates.

Georgia is the Best State for Mortgage Rates in the nation with a 5.14% for an average fixed rate 30 year mortgage.  Washington is the 2nd Best State for Mortgage Rates with a 5.15% rate.  The U.S. average rate is 5.23%.

Illinois is the Worst State for Mortgage Rates in the nation with its rate of 5.36% and Missouri is rated the 2nd Worst State in the nation at 5.35%.  Zillow reports mortgage rates weekly and is a valuable source of additional info on the real estate market.

The state you live can have a significant impact on your mortgage rates as lenders take local market history into consideration when making loans.  States with high foreclosure rates and price volatility cause more challenges for lenders when establishing mortgage pricing.

                        Average 30-yr.        Average 30-yr.
                         Fixed Rate            Fixed Rate
    State           Week ending 2/15/09    Week ending 2/08/09       % Change
    Arizona                 5.24%                  5.39%              -2.7%
    California              5.20%                  5.48%              -5.1%
    Colorado                5.28%                  5.46%              -3.2%
    Connecticut             5.20%                  5.37%              -3.1%
    Florida                 5.19%                  5.36%              -3.2%
    Georgia                 5.14%                  5.32%              -3.2%
    Illinois                5.36%                  5.50%              -2.6%
    Maryland                5.33%                  5.43%              -1.8%
    Massachusetts           5.31%                  5.54%              -4.2%
    Michigan                5.27%                  5.46%              -3.4%
    Missouri                5.35%                  5.51%              -2.8%
    New Jersey              5.21%                  5.42%              -4.0%
    New York                5.31%                  5.60%              -5.1%
    North Carolina          5.26%                  5.40%              -2.7%
    Oregon                  5.16%                  5.37%              -3.8%
    Pennsylvania            5.18%                  5.34%              -3.0%
    Tennessee               5.33%                  5.50%              -3.1%
    Texas                   5.27%                  5.43%              -2.9%
    Virginia                5.21%                  5.38%              -3.1%
    Washington              5.15%                  5.37%              -4.0%
Source: Zillow.com

Best and Worst States for Wind Energy

Where does your state rank on use of Wind Power?

The American Wind Energy Association recently published data on Existing Wind Energy Capacity in Megawatts and
construction underway.

Texas is the Best State for Wind Energy with 7116 megawatts(mw) of existing capacity.  It also has the highest construction with 1,651 mw underway.  Iowa, California, Minnesota and Washington round out the Top 5 Best States for Wind Energy.

There are a number of States on the list for the Worst States for Wind Energy.  The bottom 10 states have no wind energy capacity and none underway according to the AWEA. For a great map of all states go to American Wind Energy Association


Also check out my previous post on Best and Worst States for Electricity RatesWashington which has the 3rd lowest rate in the nation for electric rates is also in the top 5 for Wind Energy.  Connecticut, on the other extreme, has the 49th highest cost of electricity in the country yet has no wind energy capability.  It does not even have any underway.

If you believe oil and gas prices could go up again in the future you might want to consider living in a state that is serious about other forms of power.

Best States for Wind Energy

Rank State Existing Underway
1 Texas 7,116 1,651
2 Iowa 2,790 20
3 California 2,517 275
4 Minnesota 1,752 0
5 Washington 1,375 70
6 Colorado 1,068 0
7 Oregon 1,067 250
8 Illinois 915 201
9 New York 832 464
10 Kansas 815 199
Worst States For Wind Energy
Rank State Existing Underway
50 Louisiana 0 0
49 Kentucky 0 0
48 Georgia 0 0
47 Florida 0 0
46 Delaware 0 0
45 Connecticut 0 0
44 Alabama 0 0
43 North Carolina 0 0
42 Mississippi 0 0
41 South Carolina 0 0

Source: American Wind Energy Association Blog Search Engine

Does Spending More on Education Work? State Rankings of Education Spending.

Many States Spend More and Get Less from their Educational Dollars.

Editors Note: 

For the latest 2009 State SAT Rankings go to  State SAT Scores List 2009
For the latest Best States for Jobs see Best States for Job Openings September 2009  and Best States to Find a Job

Also see the States Ranked by Unemployment Increases: Will Jobs improve in 2010?

EPE Research this past week published a state ranking of education spending per student.

While the quality of education may be influenced by the amount of money spent, spending more money does not insure that students actually learn more.  We found it interesting to note how money spent and SAT scores were associated.

The highest spending state, Vermont, is rated 30th in SAT scores nationwide.  The lowest spending state, Utah, gets higher SAT scores from their students and is ranked 20th above Vermont.  Far less money, higher score.  The Best State (highest) SAT score comes from Iowa yet their spending of $9,977 per student is right in the middle at 25th and right at the national average of spending.  The Worst State Sat score comes from Maine yet it spends the 5th most money in the nation.

With all the spending coming out of Congress, we might want to ask for more accountability on results.  The various state legislatures, that are making spending decisions, clearly can not show that more money leads to better results.  Check out our previous post on Best and Worst State SAT Scores

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The data is regionally adjusted so it takes into consideration relative cost.  While SAT scores are only one performance measurement it is an important and consistent test metric across the entire nation.
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Graduation Rates, SAT Scores and Educational Spending. Who is the Best and Worst?

Does increased spending on Education lead to higher performance?

*******Go to 2009 State SAT Scores List  for the latest SAT results.*********

This question was raised in prior posts.

I thought you might find these 2 charts interesting.  Best and Worst States For Education Spending ranks all states by spending and shows the SAT Score Rank of its students. I also have attached a Chart from  Heritage that shows that the best funded cities do not have the highest graduation rates.

The more money spent clearly does not show up in higher SAT scores or graduation rates. 

New Jersey spends the most money.  Its SAT score rank is 33 .  New York, at 2nd on the money spend, ranks 44th on SAT scores.  The “Worst” State for Education Spending is Utah yet its students rank 20th on the SAT score list above NY and New Jersey. Utah spends about 1/3 the dollars of NY and New Jersey.  Its students do better than all of the Top 10 spenders on Education.  Utah may be considered a Best State for Education considering its bang for the dollar.

Arizona
is the next lowest spend state yet ranks 29th on the SAT Scores list.  Arizona students perform better than the top 6 spenders.  Mesa, AZ which is at the bottom of the Heritage list of city spends has a graduation rate of 77.1%.  Mesa spends only 40% of Boston which has a much lower graduation rate of 57%.

Clearly money is not the only factor that impacts educational performance.  You may want to consider carefully your state’s approach to education.  It appears more dollars on education does not lead to better results.  Tell your political leaders you want accountability for results not just money spent.

State Ed Spend SAT Rank
1 New Jersey 15,033 36
2 New York 14,593 44
3 DC 14,214 50
4 Connecticut 13,059 31
5 Vermont 12,749 30
6 Rhode Island 12,425 41
7 Massachusetts 12,398 29
8 Delaware 11,619 43
9 Alaska 11,551 33
10 Maine 11,014 51
11 Pennsylvania 10,900 45
12 Wyoming 10,852 16
13 Maryland 10,682 37
14 New Hampshire 10,405 26
15 Wisconsin 10,388 6
16 Michigan 9,947 13
17 Ohio 9,936 23
18 West Virginia 9,609 32
19 Hawaii 9,581 48
20 Indiana 9,498 38
21 Illinois 9,473 2
22 Virginia 9,463 34
23 Nebraska 9,365 9
24 Minnesota 9,284 3
25 Montana 8,661 22
26 Oregon 8,595 27
27 Georgia 8,589 46
28 Iowa 8,479 1
29 Kansas 8,440 7
30 California 8,418 35
31 Missouri 8,368 4
32 New Mexico 8,342 21
33 North Dakota 8,337 7
34 Colorado 8,334 18
35 Washington 8,218 25
36 Louisiana 8,167 14
37 Arkansas 8,156 11
38 South Carolina 8,039 49
39 South Dakota 7,949 5
40 Texas 7,716 42
41 Florida 7,683 47
42 Kentucky 7,595 15
43 Alabama 7,532 19
44 North Carolina 7,352 41
45 Tennessee 7,295 10
46 Nevada 7,246 41
47 Oklahoma 7,039 12
48 Mississippi 6,973 17
49 Idaho 6,729 24
50 Arizona 6,586 29
51 Utah 5,555 20


Sources:  Dept of Education.  Spending not regionally adjusted.  College Board.

http://www.heritage.org/research/Education/images/b2179_chart5.gif
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Smoking by State, Utah has least Smokers, Kentucky Most

Smoking by State, Utah has least Smokers, Kentucky Most

Editors Note: For the 2009 List of Smokers by State and the latest map go to Smoking States 2009, Tobacco Producing States and State Smoking Map

Why do people smoke more in one state versus another?  Does the number of smokers in a state affect lifestyle?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes great statistics on many aspects of health.  The smoking list is compliled by them and was completed in 2007.

Utah is the Best State for Non Smokers with only 11.7% of its population using cigarettes.  Kentucky is the Worst State with 28.3% of its population smoking.  California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Minnesota round out the top 5 Best StatesWest Virginia, Oklahoma, Missouri and Tennessee are the next Worst States following Kentucky for Non Smokers.

It is well known that smoking increases health care costs. You may want to live in a state with low smoking rates.  Then again if you are a smoker this list will help you find lots of company to light up with.

Best and Worst States for Non Smokers (% of cigarette smokers)
Utah 11.7

2 California 14.3

3 Connecticut 15.5

4 Massachuset 16.4

5 Minnesota 16.5

6 Washington  16.8

7 Oregon 16.9

8 Hawaii 17

9 Rhode Islan 17

10 Maryland 17.1

11 New Jersey 17.2

12 District of Co 17.3

13 Vermont 17.6

14 Kansas 17.9

15 Virginia 18.6

16 Colorado 18.7

17 New York 18.9

18 Delaware 19

19 Idaho 19.2

20 Florida 19.3

21 Georgia 19.3

22 New Hamps 19.4

23 Texas 19.4

24 Montana 19.5

25 Wisconsin 19.6

26 Arizona 19.8

27 Iowa 19.8

28 South Dakot 19.8

29 Nebraska 19.9

30 Maine 20.1

31 Illinois 20.2

32 New Mexico 20.8

33 Pennsylvani 20.9

34 North Dakot 21

35 Michigan 21.2

36 Nevada 21.5

37 South Caroli 21.9

38 Wyoming 22.1

39 Alaska 22.2

40 Arkansas 22.4

41 Alabama 22.5

42 Louisiana 22.6

43 North Caroli 22.9

44 Ohio 23.1

45 Mississippi 24

46 Indiana 24.1

47 Tennessee 24.3

48 Missouri 24.6

49 Oklahoma 25.8

50 West Virgini 27

51 Kentucky 28.3

Source:  Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Best and Worst States for Smart Drivers, Kansas Best, New Jersey Worst

GMAC does an annual study of state rankings for the Best and Worst States for driver knowledge.

Kansas drivers are rated the most knowledgeable. Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho and Minnesota round out the top 5 Best States respectively. New Jersey is Worst State for knowledgeable drivers.  DC, New York, Massachusetts and Georgia are rated along with New Jersey as the 5 Worst States.

The study was done by administering a 20 question to test to 5,524 licensed drivers and ranking the results by state.  The Midwest has
the most knowledgeable drivers while the Northeast had the lowest scores and highest exam failure rates.  For more detail go to

We will take a look in another post whether state insurance rates are associated with driver knowledge.

Best and Worst States for Knowledgeable Drivers 2008

1          Kansas
2          Wyoming
3          Nebraska
4          Idaho
5          Minnesota
6          Arkansas
6          South Dakota
8          Oregon
9          Iowa
9          Washington
11        Indiana
12        Wisconsin
13        Utah
14        Missouri
15        Alabama
15        Colorado
15        Montana
18        Michigan
18        Texas
18        Vermont
21        North Dakota
22        Arkansas
22        North Carolina
22        New Mexico
22        Oklahoma
26        Delaware
26        Ohio
28        Florida
29        Kentucky
30        New Hampshire
31        Maine
32        Illinois
33        California
33        Connecticut
33        Tennessee
36        Arizona
36        Nevada
36        Pennsylvania
39        South Carolina
40        Vermont
41        Rhode Island
42        Maryland
43        West Virginia
44        Louisiana
45        Hawaii
46        Mississippi
47        Georgia
48        Massachusetts
49        New York
50        District of Columbia
51        New Jersey

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California gets Worst State Credit Rating in country

California today received its Standard and Poor credit rating.  California was rated an “A.”  It is now the Worst State in the U.S. for credit ratings.  It was previously tied for last with Louisiana.  Most States in the U.S. have “AAA” or “AA” ratings from Standard and Poor.

California will now have to pay higher interest to investors for its borrowings.  This could cost the state billions going forward.  For example, Georgia which issued bonds yesterday and has a “AAA” rating had to pay 2.99%.  It is estimated California General Obligation bonds would have been priced to yield 4% if it issued bonds yesterday based on its rating.

California is one of the Worst States for Employment.

California also has one of the heaviest tax burdens in the nation.

Its citizens will be paying more taxes to pay for its higher debt costs.

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