California ranks 3rd last in financial-strength test

January 5, 2011 | 8:00 am
Bad as it is, the economic and fiscal mess facing California Gov. Jerry Brown isn’t the worst among the 50 states: At least by one measure, Arizona and Illinois have the Golden State beat for financial misery as the new year begins.

Not by much, though.

Analysts at investment bank BMO Capital Markets in Chicago have devised an index to gauge the relative financial strength of the states. The index combines measures of economic and employment health, bond quality ratings, home price movements, tax collections, and actual and projected budget deficits from 2009 through 2012.

All but four states now register negative financial strength indexes — an indication of how extensive state budget troubles have become, even though the U.S. economy overall has grown for six straight quarters as measured by gross domestic product.

California clocks in with an index reading of -9.9%, third-worst of the 50 states. Tied for last place: Arizona and Illinois, both of which show index levels of -10.7%.Click here to read more.

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Rubio Republicans: Republican candidates can talk tough on immigration and still do well with Hispanic voters if they can convincingly promote a message of economic opportunity.

(John Fund says convincingly. I think it’s more like with warmth and a genuine desire to establish a powerful connection that connect mind and heart. Corny? Well, that’s what “mi casa es tuya” or “mi casa es su casa” is all about. Good luck, and ¡salud!)
By JOHN FUND

When it comes to Hispanic voters, last week’s elections were a tale of two results for Republicans. On one level, the GOP can take pride in the fact that 31% of all Hispanic members of Congress are now in their party. But on another level, the overwhelming Democratic advantage among Hispanics helped cost the GOP key Senate seats in Nevada, Colorado and California.

The next Congress will feature an unprecedented five new Hispanic Republicans. Two are from Texas and defeated Democratic incumbents – Bill Flores of Bryan and Quico Conseco from San Antonio. Jaime Herrera was elected to an open seat in Washington state. Raul Labrador defeated a Democratic incumbent in Idaho. David Rivera won an open House seat in Florida, just as Marco Rubio won that state’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. In addition, Republicans elected two Hispanic governors — prosecutor Susan Martinez in New Mexico and Brian Sandoval, a judge, in Nevada.

But Hispanic voters also powered the come-from-behind victories of two Democratic Senators. Hispanics accounted for 14% of the electorate in Nevada, up from 12% in the last midterm election of 2006. The two-to-one advantage they gave Majority Leader Harry Reid allowed him to win by a surprising 50% to 45% margin. In Colorado, Hispanic voters made up 13% of the vote, up from only 9% four years ago. Their big margin in favor of Democratic Senator Michael Bennet helped him pull off a come-from-behind victory.Click here to read more.

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