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California state flag

(The Center Square) – California taxpayers receive the second worst return on their investment, according to a new study that ranks the 50 states.

To determine its rankings, personal finance website Wallethub evaluated each state's tax burden (local and state) and compared it to the quality of services taxpayers receive in five main categories: Education, Health, Safety, Economy, and Infrastructure & Pollution.

"Different states have dramatically different tax burdens. This begs the question of whether people in high-tax states receive superior government services," Wallethub managing editor John S. Kiernan writes. "Likewise, are low-tax states more efficient or do they receive low-quality services? In short, where do taxpayers get the most and least bang for their buck?"

California residents pay the 45th highest local and state taxes among the 50 states, according to Wallethub, and they receive the 37th best services.

"California's taxpayers have the second lowest ROI because they pay very high taxes, over $6,000 per adult resident, and get below average government services," Wallethub analyst Jill Gonzalez said. "While the state does have a high quality public university system, free community college education, and high state pre-K funding – over $8,000 per enrolled child, it lacks in other areas. One of these key areas is health care. California has the fifth smallest number of hospital beds per capita, and the quality of public hospitals is low. In addition, the state has the third highest unemployment rate in the country, subpar road quality, and the most polluted air nationwide."

The study said New Hampshire taxpayers see the best return on their investment, followed by Florida, South Dakota and Virginia.

Taxpayers in Hawaii receive the worst return on their investment, followed by California and New Mexico.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at

Executive Editor

Dan McCaleb is a veteran editor and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Most recently, McCaleb served as editorial director of Shaw Media and the top editor of the award-winning Northwest Herald in suburban Chicago.