ANCHORAGE -

An extensive study by two universities has placed Alaska on a top-10 list of the nation’s most corrupt states. According to the study's methodology, states that spend more money place higher on the list.

The study was compiled by Indiana University and the City University of Hong Kong. Researchers say it's the first of its kind that links the impact of public officials’ corruption to state spending.

As Alaskans gear up for another election year, a report based on the study published in Fortune magazine names Alaska the seventh most corrupt state in the union, on a list topped by Mississippi.

Alaska's closest Lower 48 neighbors, Oregon and Washington, were listed as the least corrupt states.

"It's based on federal Department of Justice reports, on the number of public officials convicted of corruption-related crimes," said Indiana University professor John Mikesell.

The study spanned from 1978 to 2006 -- part of a period in Alaska politics that saw several lawmakers indicted on corruption charges, with some serving jail time.

State House Speaker Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), who served in the Legislature during that period, said in a statement Thursday that things have changed since then.

"Most Alaskans remember those dark days in the early 2000s,” Chenault said. “In response to those actions of a few, we now have some of the most stringent ethics rules and reporting requirements to make sure corruption does not darken our doorstep again."

The study looked at how much states spent on capital projects such roads and bridges -- because that often involves bringing in contractors, who may be vulnerable to bribes.

"A lot of that red tape is there because public officials are spending other people's money," Mikesell said.

According to Mikesell, the top 10 most corrupt states spend about $1,300 more per capita each year than they would if they had an average level of corruption.

Jessie Peterson, director of the Alaska Public Interest Research Group, says it’s not surprising to hear evidence of a link between spending and corruption.

"Anytime that you are dealing with multi-billion-dollar projects, and you're dealing with certain companies owning components of that, the greed factor and the ability for corruption to become a part of the process is just there," Peterson said.

Peterson says she hopes lawmakers will consider the study’s results before making decisions that will affect all Alaskans.

The report says more corrupt states spent less on education at all levels, public welfare, health and hospitals.