Best of the West: Western states’ fiscal fitness; Netflix in New Mexico; Montana’s outdoor rec tops $7 billion

The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Oct. 8, 2018, that you don't want to miss.

The study Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition reveals that seven of the top ten U.S. states are in the West. By examining their financial statements, the study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University measures how well states can meet short- and long-term goals.

Nebraska, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Nevada were ranked among the top ten fiscally solvent states. Five dimensions of solvency --including: cash, budget, long-run, service-level and trust fund -- were examined.

South Dakota took the number two spot and has between 4.76 and 6.78 times the cash needed to cover short-term obligations, well above the U.S. average. In Oklahoma (#5), Long-term liabilities are lower than the national average, at 11 percent of total assets. Utah (#8) was cited in the study as an example with strong short-term indicators and low levels of debt and unfunded pension liabilities.

Netflix’s New Digs: Albuquerque will be the new production hub for Netflix. The purchase of ABQ Studios is expected to bring 1,000 jobs annually to New Mexico and more than $1 billion over the next 10 years. “Netflix is at the cutting edge of the film and television industry and it’s an honor to welcome them to New Mexico,” said Gov. Susana Martinez.

Seeding the Future: Ancient and modern farming techniques are putting plants on a pedestal across the West. A wild potato variety in Utah that has existed for 11,000 years took center stage at an annual Indigenous Dinner at the Natural History Museum of Utah. In Colorado, a “modern-day Noah’s Ark” preserves thousands of seeds and DNA samples in case of disaster. And in California, robots could be the farmers of the future.

The Great Outdoor$: Two new reports by Headwaters Economics have determined the economic impact of outdoor recreation on two western states. Statewide, Montana generates $7.1 billion in consumer spending and supports more than 71,000 jobs. The Bozeman-based independent research group also found that new trail development in Bonner County, Idaho could generate an additional $4.5 million in new visitor spending.

Getting Lots of Buzz: Oregon is embarking on its first statewide bee survey to determine how many species are living in the state. Researchers and volunteers are cataloging the different species to determine whether they’re declining, and to protect the pollinators supporting the state’s $6 billion agriculture industry.

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