LOUISVILLE -- A new analysis of states and how they perform for their residents ranked Kentucky 40th out of 50, a disappointing showing driven by lags in health care and education.
U.S. News and World Report released an extensive analysis of states that took into account a range of criteria -- education, health care, infrastructure and the economy. Results from three large surveys with more than 70 metric and thousands of data points were analyzed to capture how well sates serve their residents.
Added weight was given to education and health care. Overall, Washington was ranked first, ahead of New Hampshire and Minnesota, respectively.
Kentucky did well in measures of crime and corrections and its natural environment, ranking 11th and 12th respectively. Its comparatively low violent crime rates and air quality made for its strongest showing.
But Kentucky fell to 44th in health care and 38th in education, which along with lower showings in fiscal stability and the economy, sank the state's ranking into the lower third, according to senior data editor Deidre McPhillips.
A request for comment sent to Gov. Matt Bevin's staff Monday night received no response.
"As people are increasingly concerned about income disparities, rising health care costs, gaps in education and crumbling infrastructure, it's more important than ever to focus on the day-to-day policies that affect people where they live their lives," said Eric Gertler, executive chairman of U.S. News.
The Best States project aims to provide objective data and detail from journalists, Gertler said in a statement, on state performance. The rankings are designed to fill the gap in local reporting to benefit residents, business leaders, decision-makers and government leaders.
U.S. News conducted an annual survey asking Americans how satisfied they were with various state government services and where they thought their states should focus resources. For health care, respondents were asked about access, quality and public health issues.
U.S. News found that 38% of Americans generally agreed their state government is effective. In Illinois, few than 11% of residents said they believe their government is effective, the lowest score of any state. Massachusetts had nearly 64% of residents generally agree that their government is effective.
Indiana ranked 36th, getting its best score for fiscal stability (sixth overall) and its worst for health care, where it came in 40th. States where more than 90% of residents had health insurance coverage were given higher marks.
U.S. News examined views about higher education affordability and pre-K to 12th grade education to assemble an education score. In the top states, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Florida, respectively, the data team found because of a variety of state programs and other factors, students graduate with an average of $25,000 in debt, more than $3,000 less than the national average.
Colorado was best for its economy, while Oregon topped the list for its infrastructure ranking. Tennessee's fiscal stability ranked first.
"Indices like the Best States rankings can in some cases point to general strengths and areas for improvement, but don't provide an accurate picture of what is really going on in a state and sometimes mask real issues that need to be addressed," said Anna Baumann, communications director for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.