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Louisiana rated last on "best states" list

Updated: Feb. 27, 2018 at 2:41 PM CST
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NORTH LOUISIANA (KSLA) - A new list has Louisiana coming in dead last as its ranked the states on different variables — but the Governor's Office says not so fast..

U.S. News & World Report's Best States: 2018 ranks Iowa as the number 1 best state throughout the entire union. The Hawkeye state was followed by Minnesota, Utah, North Dakota and New Hampshire rounding out the top five.

Representatives from Governor John Bel Edwards' office say they dispute the report because it uses old data and doesn't reflect recent changes to healthcare.

Below is a statement form Shauna Sandford, communications director for the Office of the Governor:

This latest ranking of the states by U.S. News and World Report does a disservice to Louisiana by using grossly outdated information that in no way accurately reflects the current gains being made throughout our state, especially in the areas of health care and education.

The metrics used to compile this report date as far back as seven years when it comes to education and do not take into account the significant improvements the state has made in many important areas. Unfortunately, this is a recurring problem with this report which has previously used data a decade old in ranking our state.

Louisiana has made a major policy shift since Gov. John Bel Edwards adopted Medicaid expansion immediately upon taking office, which was not included in the report.  Since then, more than 470,000 Louisianans who could not afford health care prior to expansion are now receiving wellness visits, cancer screenings, mental health and substance abuse services.

Another omission from the report, the fact that under Gov. Edwards for the first time in nearly a decade funding for higher education is stabilized, TOPS has been fully funded, admission requests are up in the University of Louisiana System, largest university system in the state, by more than 20 percent, the LSU system has seen a 38 percent increase for fall admissions and the number of students from out-of-state who want to attend school in Louisiana is up by more than 50 percent.

It is important to put this report in perspective and understand that while it purports to be a snapshot of what's happening in our state today, in reality it is a misleading report based on old information that is not reflective of what's currently happening in our state.

The list is ranked by examining 77 metrics across eight categories. The eight categories are health care, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, crime & corrections, fiscal stability and quality of life.

Below is a graph from U.S. News & World Report's website on how each category is weighted:

For a full explanation of the ranking's methodology, click here. Washington D.C. was not ranked in the list, however, data for Washington D.C. was included for the national averages.

Louisiana only came in last for the opportunity category but did not come last in any other. However, all other categories remained in the lower 40s except for quality of life. For a look at the list's raw data, click here.

Here's how Louisiana stacked up against other states in each category:

  • Health Care: (Louisiana: 47%) Healthcare is the highest-weighted ranking. The overall score looks at affordability, health care quality and health care outcomes for citizens. (Highest: Hawaii; Lowest: Mississippi)
  • Education: (Louisiana: 49%) The education ranking measures how well the states educate students throughout all grades and includes the different levels of higher education. (Highest: Massachusetts; Lowest: New Mexico)
  • Economy: (Louisiana: 44%) The ranking tracks unemployment, GDP growth, new residents to the state, the number of patents issued and new businesses. (Highest: Colorado; Lowest: Alaska)
  • Opportunity: (Louisiana: 50%) Louisiana comes in last in the opportunity ranking. Opportunity looks at poverty; housing affordability; equality for women, minorities and people with disabilities. (Highest: New Hampshire)
  • Infrastructure: (Louisiana: 44%) These rankings measure the quality of services such as state's bridges, public transportation, power grids and internet service. (Highest: Iowa; Lowest:  West Virginia)
  • Crime & Corrections: (Louisiana: 48%) The ranking looks at public safety and the quality and fairness of the state's prison systems. The ranking also includes racial bias. (Highest: Maine; Lowest: Alaska)
  • Fiscal Stability: (Louisiana: 48%) These numbers track the state's government credit rankings, liquidity, pension fund liability and budget balancing. (Highest: Utah; Lowest: Illinois)
  • Quality of Life: (Louisiana: 42%) Out of all the categories, quality of life is Louisiana's best score. It tracks air quality, pollution, voter participation, social support and other variables. (Highest: North Dakota; Lowest: California)

For Louisiana's neighbor states, Arkansas was rated at #45; Mississippi was just above Louisiana at a #49 and Texas at #36.

Both Mississippi and Arkansas were in the top 10 for Quality of Life scores (Mississippi came in at 6 and Arkansas at 7).

Texas ranked number 8 in its Economy score.

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