Violet: R.I. is second worst-run state

Well, the results are posted. Rhode Island is the second worst-run state being bested only by the State of California.

So says 24/7 Wall Street, a blog which each year conducts an extensive survey of all 50 states. In case you are wondering if this somewhat innocuous source might not be seen by too many readers, the results were published front and center in the Wall Street Journal.

I always hope that maybe the surveyors made mistakes in their analysis about Rhode Island so we can tell them that they’re wrong about something. Well, here’s what they said.

Rhode Island owes the third-highest debt per capita, a whopping $9,018 for every man, woman and child. Didn’t we also just add to that by passing every statewide bond referenda? I guess that not only don’t the leaders “get it” but also obviously the citizens love to binge on spending.

Rhode Island has the 28th highest budget deficit.

With unemployment rate of 11.3 percent, the state is the third highest in the nation. At first I thought this might be something to correct. However, the data is collected and analyzed without seasonal workers or part-time employees’ adjustments across the board for every state. Even if the number is wrong, the placement is not.

The comparison went on to state that Rhode Island’s finances were a mess in fiscal 2010. The state had $9.5 billion in unpaid debts which came out to 107.2 percent of that year’s revenues. The state funded less than half of the pension obligations. Aha! This part of the analysis must have been done prior to the legislative reform, although it hasn’t been implemented much yet.

That’s only a short breather, however, as Little Rhody went on to a scathing review of fiscal mismanagement for the 38 Studios guarantee of $75 million for the flopped company. The “review” ended with a notation that the state has one of the slowest growth rates and the conclusion that the economy here performed poorly overall.

Can’t you see businesses flocking to the door to relocate here now that the owners have read this survey?

So, I looked at the “best-run” state — North Dakota — to see what could be learned. First, it had a well-managed budget and was recognized by credit-ranking agencies with a perfect or near-perfect credit rating. North Dakota also had the lowest unemployment with just 3.6 percent of the employable population. No budget shortfall pockmarked the fiscal year. To be sure, the oil boom has transformed its economy with North Dakota being the second-largest oil producer in this country.

So, what can we correct about the “facts” ‘in the analysis? Other than the pension issue, can we really fight about anything else that may have been misrepresented about the state en route to another black eye?

In comparison to the best-managed state, what do we have in common? Dare we say, “Nothing?”

The problem with this state is that the leaders have little vision to be sure. However, the rest of the taxpayers don’t hold anybody accountable. Just check the election results a month ago. The public returned the politicians as usual to do the business as usual. How can anything really change?

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