Montana ranks as the most prudent state in the country, according to a study in Governing magazine.

A study by Michael Cembalest for J.P. Morgan sought to measure how much state governments owe in bonded debt and liabilities for pensions and other post-employment benefits such as retiree health care.

To see how all the states would stack up, he assumed a six percent return on pension investments (Montana assume a return of 7.75 percent), level annual payments and a 30-year term for paying down liabilities. Then he compared the states.

Montana had the lowest obligations followed by Nebraska, while Illinois and Connecticut had the highest.

State Budget Director Dan Villa said, “We have the lowest cost as a percentage of state revenues, and we’re making one of the highest percentage contributions toward. The gist of it is our debts are lower and we have more money than other states to pay them.”

Gov. Steve Bullock said, “The comparison to other states is further evidence of the fiscally responsible manner in which Montana state government is operating.”

The governor went on to add, “We are maintaining a rainy day fund to ensure we are prepared for unforeseen events like floods, fires or federal shutdowns. We are paying our bills so that we do not pass liabilities on to future generations.”

“We gave all Montana businesses a tax cut and we are making historic investments in education to ensure a future workforce that is prepared for the jobs of the future,” he said.

State Senator Llew Jones (SD-14) told the I-O, “There was much debate this primary session as the Montana’s fiscal health. As a long-time member of Appropriations and current Legislative Finance Chair, I am much vested in keeping Montana on solid financial footing.”
He went on to say, “I have shared many times that our books are balanced and that we have good reserves. We have taken a very conservative approach in Montana. I was quite pleased when Governing magazine ranked Montana as the most fiscally prudent state in the nation.”


“We still have many areas we need to improve, but currently our books are the envy of the nation, and our schools are always at the top,” Jones added.