By Michael P. Norton – SHNS
Despite its economic strengths, Massachusetts ranks near the bottom in a new fiscal stability index that sizes up the states, its position pulled down by “heavy” government health care, borrowing and employee pension costs. The Massachusetts High Technology Council unveiled its index Tuesday, adding it to its competitiveness dashboard, known as the Massachusetts Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System (MATTERS).
Massachusetts ranked ninth among the states for its gross state product, but 44th in the fiscal stability rankings. Wyoming ranked first. “There is no better time to focus on long-term financial goals and strategies than when the economy is relatively strong,” council chairman Aron Ain said. “Solutions do not lie in broad taxation schemes, arbitrary cutbacks, or incremental policy change. But in thoughtful strategic collaborations that harnesses the innovative economy.” The showing in the fiscal stability index is offset by No. 1 rankings for Massachusetts in talent and quality of life, according to the MATTERS index. Massachusetts ranks No. 33 in the tax index and 47 in cost of doing business.
An unrelated reported recently knocked the Boston area for its traffic congestion. The negatives cited in the fiscal stability index are some of the same issues long flagged by Wall Street credit rating agencies, which have also regularly cited the strong economic core in Massachusetts, a traditionally high income state where borrowing costs are concentrated in state government rather than counties.