Staff Columnist

How Reynolds can live up to 'Best State' ranking

Analysts applaud Iowa in 'opportunity' category

From left to right: Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Governor Kim Reynolds, Sen. Mark Chelgren
From left to right: Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Governor Kim Reynolds, Sen. Mark Chelgren

New rankings from U.S. News and World Report call Iowa the best state in the nation.

Iowa earned particularly high marks in the broad category called “opportunity,” which measures things like education and income inequality. That is a convenient development for Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has made “opportunity” the de facto tagline of her first year in office.

“ … In Iowa, if you’re willing to work hard, you can accomplish anything. My top priority as governor is to build on our current success by bringing new resources and opportunities to every corner of our state,” Reynolds said in a prepared statement circulated by U.S. News.

The best-state designation will surely be campaign fodder for Reynolds and other Iowa Republicans seeking re-election this year, but it could backfire if they don’t back the metrics up with policy in the Legislature this year.

The fate of several legislative proposals will determine whether Republicans can be taken seriously when they say they’re the party of opportunity.

Will they reduce penalties for first-time marijuana possession, which can stymie young Iowans’ employment prospects? Will they reject a bill forcing local governments to crackdown on peaceful immigrants? Will they fully ban the traffic cameras that harass drivers and plunder our wallets?

Those moves would represent a real pro-opportunity agenda for Iowa.

In a world with filled with best-of lists, U.S. News calls itself the “global authority in rankings,” and their figures are frequently cited by journalists and politicians. This year’s report says analysts used 77 metrics to compare the status things like education, health care and infrastructure among the 50 states.

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