Why Mass. fell from No. 1 to No. 8

Jeffrey M. Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University, hit the nail on the head.

Asked by the Boston Globe about the validity of US News & World Report’s ranking of best states, which had Massachusetts falling from No. 1 to No. 8, he said: “Junk science last year, junk science this year, and junk science next year, no matter what the score. Yet it does pick up some weaknesses in Massachusetts.”

So while the three Democrats running for the state’s top political post were busy blaming Gov. Charlie Baker for Massachusetts’ fall from the top spot, let’s focus on what the rankings do tell us.

A state’s overall ranking is based on its grades in eight broad categories, and those grades are based on state-by-state rankings of factors within the categories. Massachusetts ranked among the top 10 states in four of the broad categories, including education, where it held the No. 1 spot. It ranked fifth in health care and crime and corrections and ninth in economy. In the crime and corrections category, an area of focus right now on Beacon Hill, Massachusetts ranked second in the nation for its low incarceration rate and 40th for equality in jailing.

Massachusetts ranked 14th in opportunity (37th on income inequality) and 25th in quality of life. The state’s ranking on quality of life was dragged down by poor scores on community engagement and social supports.

The state’s poorest showings were in the broad categories of fiscal stability (#40) and infrastructure (#45). Within fiscal stability, the state ranked 46th on budget balancing and 49th on liquidity, which was derived by dividing a state’s current assets by its liabilities. One of the leading bond rating agencies last year downgraded the state’s credit worthiness for the first time in 30 years.

The infrastructure category was particularly revealing. The state ranked 47th on its electricity prices, a major concern of the business community and the underlying cause of the fierce debate in Massachusetts on natural gas pipeline infrastructure. It ranked 47th in average commute time (just under 30 minutes), 46th on road quality (36.5 percent of roads in poor condition), and 49th in terms of households with ultra-fast internet access (0.1 percent). On the plus side, Massachusetts ranked first in broadband access and 8th in public transit usage.

The story these rankings show is that Massachusetts has strengths and weaknesses. How those strengths should be reinforced and how the weaknesses should be addressed is great fodder for a political campaign.



The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Massachusetts rose sharply in 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League. (MassLive)

The Brockton City Council voted down Mayor Bill Carpenter’s nominee for a volunteer post on the Cable Advisory Commission with one councilor saying she voted no solely because of his gender. (The Enterprise)

An attorney for the city of Quincy told the Zoning Board of Appeals there is little the city can do to stop a proposed 40B affordable housing project planned for the Wollaston neighborhood. (Patriot Ledger)


Several White House aides, including presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have lost their top secret security clearance because of issues with their background checks. (New York Times)

President Trump’s offshore drilling proposal gets panned at Boston information meeting. (Salem News)

A Herald editorial decries “political bullies” on both sides of the debate over gun laws, and calls out Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a Georgia state senator.


President Trump selects a campaign manager for a 2020 reelection bid. (Time)

The National Review says Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American heritage will come back to haunt her if she runs for president, not by conservatives but rather those on the left in her own party.


Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the nation’s top outdoor gear retailers, said it will immediately stop  selling assault rifles and will not sell any gun to anyone under the age of 21. (New York Times)

Amazon plans a Boston expansion that will bring 2,000 jobs to the Seaport. (Boston Globe)

The city of Worcester has spent $54,642 on two consultants assisting in trying to move the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester. (MassLive)

Suffolk Construction has developed a high-tech nerve center from which officials of the Boston-based company can monitor the firm’s far-flung array of construction projects. (Boston Globe)


Jeff Riley received only a small pay raise moving from his post as receiver of the Lawrence schools to head of the entire state elementary and secondary education system. He will be paid $241,000, a 2.5 percent increase, and be given access to a vehicle. (Eagle-Tribune)

The elementary school principal in Swampscott who came out as transgender earlier this month took a temporary leave after receiving messages she described as hurtful. (Salem News)


Partners HealthCare, which was already in talks to acquire Care New England Health System of Providence, says it’s now considering including in a potential deal Lifespan, which owns several other Rhode Island health care facilities, including Rhode Island Hospital. (Boston Globe)


TransitMatters pushes the concept of regional rail, and US Rep. Seth Moulton is on the same page, forming a coalition to push for transforming the state’s commuter rail network into more of a subway-like system. (CommonWealth)

A poll funded by the Barr Foundation and conducted by the MassINC Polling Group shows transportation is a major issue now and in the future for voters but there’s little agreement on how to fix it or pay for it.


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says a 2017 report accusing Eversource Energy and Avangrid of artificially driving up natural gas prices “was flawed and led to incorrect conclusions.” (CommonWealth)

Mark LeBel of the Acadia Center says it’s time to part ways with the old utility business model. (CommonWealth)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has identified yet another violation at the Pilgrim power plant, citing two technicians who took a shortcut that caused a safety system to shut down. (Cape Cod Times)

Climate change could have an impact on waterfront property values sooner than people realize. (U.S. News & World Report)


The head of an advocacy group for victims of domestic and sexual assault says the state gambling commission should move quickly to declare that the Wynn name cannot appear on the Everett casino being built by the Wynn Resorts company because of the various allegations of sexual assault against company founder Steve Wynn. (Boston Herald)

The Cannabis Control Commission required medical marijuana facilities to set aside 30 percent of their pot inventory for medical patients once retail sales begin. (State House News)

Dartmouth selectmen have approved a host agreement for a second medical marijuana dispensary and a third nonprofit is also eyeing a facility in the town. (Standard-Times)


Prosecutors in the upcoming corruption trial of two Boston City Hall aides plan to ask prospective jurors about their attitude toward Mayor Marty Walsh in order to determine whether they want them sitting on the jury. (Boston Herald)

A Globe editorial says there seems to be a lot that’s fishy these days in the State Police.

A fired Whitman police officer set to enter federal prison on tax embezzlement charges is facing new charges of scamming car owners by selling bogus insurance policies then pocketing the money while a judge had stayed his sentence. (The Enterprise)

Aging mobster Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme told a federal judge he was OK with continuing to be represented in his upcoming murder trial by a lawyer who once served as a law clerk for an attorney representing another mob figure who is slated to testify against Salemme. (Boston Herald)


The state Appeals Court upheld a judgment against GateHouse Media that delivery drivers for the Patriot Ledger are employees of the company and not independent contractors, setting the drivers up to be reimbursed for illegal deductions. (Cape Cod Times)

The New York Times lays plans for a weekly TV news program. (CNN)