By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) — “The progress we’ve made together has been noticed and it should be,” crowed Gov. Charlie Baker at February’s State of the Commonwealth Address, noting: “U.S. News & World Report ranked Massachusetts the best state in the nation in which to live, work and raise a family.”

That was the governor’s third address, but when he shared that boast he made a rookie mistake. Bragging about magazine rankings comes with a risk – the kudos they give can be abruptly withdrawn.

Why did our state drop from first to eighth in the latest U.S. News rankings? We’re still number one in education and number five in health care. But the magazine’s metrics have changed to put more weight on infrastructure and fiscal stability, two areas where we rank toward the bottom of the heap.

“We’ve allocated more than $700 million in local road and bridge funding – the largest investment in years,” said the governor in his address.

baker2 Keller @ Large: Think Twice Before You Brag

Gov. Charlie Baker at 2018 State of the Commonwealth address (WBZ-TV)

But U.S. News ranks us 46th in road quality.

“Fixing decades of neglect doesn’t happen overnight. But make no mistake, we will deliver the public transit system that the people of this Commonwealth deserve,” said Mr. Baker. But in the meantime, we have the fourth worst commute time of any state, says the magazine.

And if you wondered why the governor spent lots of time in that speech detailing state spending but made no mention of our fiscal stability, perhaps it’s because U.S. News ranked us 48th in short-term stability, and 49th in liquidity.

Eighth place out of 50 states isn’t bad, not bad at all. But it’s not first place.

Moral of the story – think twice before you brag.

Share your thoughts with me via email at, or you can reach me on Twitter, @kelleratlarge.


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