Legislators looking for the best returns on budget investments should focus their efforts on education spending, which in turn leads to higher productivity and higher wages, according to a new report released Thursday morning.

The report, composed for the Economic Analysis and Research Network at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning think tank, shows a strong correlation between a well-educated workforce, higher productivity and higher wages. States where higher percentages of the workforce have attained bachelor’s degrees, like Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey, have much higher average hourly wages than states with fewer college graduates, like Nevada, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, the study shows.