Rhode Islanders should be pleasantly surprised to find their state coming in at number 38 out of 50 on the Mercatus Center’s ranking of the states’ fiscal condition. Any list that keeps the Ocean State out of the worst 10 is apt to be received with either relief or suspicion among the people who live here.
Of course, this particular list was sweetened by the fact that Rhode Island came in second best in New England — behind only New Hampshire, which southern New Englanders tend to see as an impossible-to-replicate land of low taxes and “live free or die” liberty. As WPRI reporter Ted Nesi put it, Rhode Island’s placement is “not great, but notably higher than Connecticut (#47) or Massachusetts (#48).”
Given this unexpected result, though, there’s reason to wonder whether Mercatus’s methodology misses the ways in which Rhode Island games every system. After all, comparing states’ employment levels with their pre-crash peak, Massachusetts is nowthe fourth best in the country. In MoneyRates.com’s “Best and Worst States to Make a Living 2015,” Massachusetts is #20, while Rhode Island is in its more-familiar territory in the bottom 10 (at #42).
Shouldn’t the health of a state’s economy bear some relation to its fiscal health?