That's none other than Utah's own Gov. Norm Bangerter smiling proudly on the cover of an upcoming issue of Financial World. And no wonder he looks happy - the business magazine has named Utah the nation's best-managed state.

After earning the second-place slot behind Maryland in 1990, Utah finished first this year in the magazine's second annual "State of the States" rankings.According to the New York-based magazine, Utah "is run like a well-managed business. . . . Fiscal controls are taken seriously in the Beehive State with agencies forced to toe the line."

The listings, scheduled to appear in the biweekly magazine's May 28 issue, praise Utah's "superior budgeting and financial reporting system," as well as a number of other pluses.

The only problem with the state in the listings was "below average controls on highways and bridges." Lawmakers met in special session last month to pass an $85 million bond that will correct some of the concerns.

The rankings are based on the results of surveys sent to budget officials in each of the 50 states as well as interviews with them and other state leaders, including legislators.

Information also was sought from the National Governors Association and other national organizations, and financial rating services such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's.

Fourteen categories were used to rank the states, including the accuracy of revenue estimates, the availability of money set aside for emergencies in a "rainy-day fund" and the accuracy of various expenditure estimates, including prison systems and Medicaid.

According to Financial World President Douglas McIntyre, who was in Salt Lake City to announce the rankings Tuesday, Utah especially stood out because state officials don't overspend and do reward good work.

McIntyre didn't have any specific suggestions when asked what state officials should do to make sure the state stays on top. "If you're at the top of this ranking, the big thing you don't want to do is screw up," he said.

Bangerter thanked McIntyre for the honor. "We appreciate the ranking and the recognition. It really is more of a credit to the people of this state," for demanding high standards from government leaders.

The listings are used by the magazine's 500,000 readers nationwide not only to make personal investment and business-relocation decisions but to evaluate how well their own states are being run, McIntyre said.

"I wouldn't want to be the governor of Massachusetts," he said, referring to the state that moved from 48th last year to dead last in 1991's rankings. "That poor son-of-a-gun has a very tough road ahead of him."


(Additional information)

States' status

Financial World's "State of the States" rankings for 1991:

1. Utah

2. Missouri

3. Maryland

4. Virginia

5. South Carolina

6. Tennessee

7. Washington

8. North Carolina

9. Minnesota

10. Wisconsin

13. Nevada

25. Colorado

29. Arizona

30. Montana


35. Wyoming

38. Idaho

41. California

42. North Dakota

43. New York

44. Rhode Island

45. New Mexico

46. Connecticut

47. West Virginia

48. Maine

49. Vermont

50. Massachusetts