The sentence that we’ve heard most frequently about states in our 25 plus years of researching them has been “they vary.”
They sure do.
We entertained ourselves this morning by skimming through an excellent ranking of state performance that was published this week by the Missouri Auditor’s Office. We’ve seen “how do we compare” documents from a variety of other state auditor-evaluator offices, but thought this one was particularly good. Of course, it draws attention to Missouri specifically, but the rankings for the other 49 states are there, too.
The comparisons cover the economy, education, civic involvement, health, crime and transportation and include 28 separate rankings. It was put together by the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs’ Institute of Public Policy at the University of Missouri – Columbia.
Some of the rankings surprised us. (The fact that they did, probably shows some admitted prejudices about how we think states are likely to perform.)
- Our home state, New York, had the second to lowest property crime rate per capita and Hawaii had the highest. Vermont had the lowest property crime rate per capita. (2015 data)
- Nevada had the lowest percentage of roads in poor or mediocre condition. Hawaii, again, had the highest. (2013 data)
- Minnesota, where the I-35 West St. Anthony Falls Bridge famously collapsed in 2007, has the lowest number of deficient or obsolete bridges. (2014 data)
- Montana has the highest percentage of the population with a high school diploma (93.5 percent) and California (where our son and daughter-in-law live) has the lowest (82.2 percent) (2015 data)
- Kentucky is among the states with the highest 4th grade reading scores. (2015 data)
- Idaho and South Carolina (where our daughter lives) had the highest job growth rate in 2014-2015.
- Maine and Wisconsin had the highest voter turnout rates for the last mid-term elections in 2014 (58.7 and 56.9 percent ). New York and Indiana had the lowest.(29 and 28.7 percent).
By the way, Missouri is found at the middle of the pack for most of the rankings. But it does rise to the top and bottom of some lists. Its state and local tax revenue is among the lowest as a percentage of personal income (2013 data), and its 17-cent cigarette tax is the lowest. (2016 data) Its percentage of adult smokers – 22.3 percent of the population – is among the highest. (2015 data)