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It’s clearly finer to be in Carolina

From a column by Rob Christensen of The News & Observer in Raleigh:

North Carolina remains among the leaders in the South when it comes to quality of life, health, education, the economy and other important measures, according to a new in-depth 50-state survey.

The Tar Heel State still has many problems, ranging from a significant number of people living in poverty to many who lack health insurance. But it is also fast growing, with a low-cost university system, plenty of opportunity, and decent education and government.

That is the conclusion of a new survey published by U.S. News and World Report rating the states based on 60 metrics and thousands of data points regarding health care, education, economy, infrastructure, public safety and the integrity and health of state government.

North Carolina has long been recognized as a leader in the South — a region that has faced a multigenerational struggle to overcome its legacy of poverty.

“It is beyond doubt one of the most important, alive and progressive states in the union,” wrote journalist John Gunther in his 1947 book, “Inside USA.” In the 1960s, National Geographic called North Carolina the Dixie Dynamo. But some observers have questioned that status over the years. Progressive critics have questioned the rightward turn in politics since 2010 and the national backlash to House Bill 2.

But according to U.S. News and World Report’s data dive, the state still is a leader in its region.

The top five states were Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington state, according to the report that was prepared in part by McKinsey & Co., Leading States Index. The bottom five were Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and New Mexico.

North Carolina was exactly in the middle, ranked 25th. Among Southern states, only Virginia (11th) and Florida (24th) were rated as better states.

… North Carolina ranked near the bottom in the number of its citizens who have health insurance (42nd).

Because of the GOP legislature, North Carolina was one of 15 states that declined to expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor as part of the Affordable Care Act.

But Republicans, who controlled the legislature and governorship the past four years, can note how highly North Carolina government is rated.

The Tar Heel State was ranked the fourth best in the country in government, with the report citing the state’s high credit rating, its pension funding, transparency and integrity.

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