Acadiana Business

Though last on 'Camelot Index,' state moves up in biz rank

by Leslie Turk

A week after Louisiana ranked dead last on an index comparing states on economic vitality, education, health, crime and governance, we come in as most improved for business.

Last week Louisiana and Gov. Bobby Jindal's veep prospects were dealt a blow when a composite index measuring how states compare on economic vitality, education, health, crime and governance had us dead last, but this week we move up on Chief Executive magazine's Best/Worst States for Business.

Louisiana now ranks 13th, up from 27th in 2011 and up 32 spots in the past four years, the largest improvement of any state.

That means CEOs nationwide believe Louisiana is the most improved state for business in the U.S., according to Louisiana Economic Development.

Chief Executive asked CEOs to grade states on such areas as taxes, regulatory environment, workforce quality and living environment. LED says in a press release that in Louisiana, Chief Executive cited business-friendly improvements, which include a more competitive corporate tax structure and turnkey workforce programs. The magazine also cited recent education and pension reform efforts as positive development trend indicators.

That accolade comes about a week after the state ranked dead last on a new composite index comparing how the 50 states fare on measures of economic vitality, education, health, crime and governance. According to The Times-Picayune, the "Camelot Index" is issued annually by Federal Funds Information for States, a non-partisan subscription service created by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks and reports on the fiscal impact of federal budget and policy decisions on state budgets and programs. The paper reported:

"It is based on the premise that most people share a common set of preferences: fewer taxes are better than more, small class sizes are better than large, low death rates are better than high, less crime is better than more and so on," FFIS writes in explaining the index, named for the mythical Arthurian kingdom - that most "congenial spot," in the lyrics of the musical.

"Many studies incorporate such preferences, but they often focus on just one area. For example, a study may attempt to identify the healthiest' state but ignore the fact that health care isn't delivered in a vacuum; it may be traded off with something else. The Camelot Index brings together measures of economic vitality, health, education, crime, society and government. In the current index, many states rank consistently across measures, while others do quite well on some measures but not on others." ...

While Gov. Bobby Jindal has foresworn any interest in being Mitt Romney's running-mate, the Camelot ranking comes at an inopportune moment if he harbors any such ambition. The governor's stewardship of Louisiana has won rave reviews in the conservative press, but the FFIS ranking would seem to indicate that Louisiana has a long way to go.

By contrast, some other governors or former governors who are mentioned as potential vice presidential candidates hail from states that do far better than Louisiana on the Camelot measures. Some examples: former Gov. Tim Pawlenty led Minnesota, which ranks seventh; Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's state ranked eighth; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's state ranked 18th. Massachusetts, where Romney served as governor, ranked 14th.

The Camelot Index's "healthy economy" ranking is based on the percentage of people in poverty, employment growth, population growth, per capita income growth, per capita federal tax liabilities - a reflection of high incomes - per capita taxable resources and the annual mean wage for retail salespeople. Combining these criteria, New Jersey ranked number one, followed by North Dakota, Wyoming, Maryland and Virginia. Louisiana placed 41st. Mississippi and Alabama were at the bottom.

Read the T-P story here.