In his speech to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, Governor Deval Patrick boasted of Massachusetts’ accomplishments, offering the kind of list that he would no doubt repeat time and again if he were ever to seek higher office.
“Massachusetts leads the nation in economic competitiveness, student achievement, health care coverage, life sciences and biotech, energy efficiency, and veterans’ services,” Patrick declared.
The list presents a largely accurate, if at times incomplete, accounting of Massachusetts under Patrick’s leadership.
On economic competitiveness, Patrick’s assertion is based on a report that the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative think tank, released in March that ranked Massachusetts first among the states, ahead of North Dakota and Colorado. The report was based on an analysis of 44 factors, including fiscal policy and infrastructure.
Other rankings have found Massachusetts to be less competitive. CNBC recently ranked Massachusetts the 28th best state for business, down from sixth in 2011, the biggest decline of any state.
On student achievement, Patrick points out that Massachusetts’ fourth- and eighth-graders were tops in the nation in reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, exam in 2011.
Nevertheless, the state has been slower to improve on the exam since 2005, and has had flat performance in the past several years, according to the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank.
In health care coverage, Massachusetts had more than 98 percent of its residents insured in 2011, a far higher percentage than in any other state. The high rate is due, of course, to the health care law that Patrick’s predecessor, Mitt Romney, signed in 2006. That law required every resident to obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
In life sciences and biotech, Patrick’s boast is based on a 2011 report by Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate and investment firm, which ranked Boston as the best place for biotech in the United States, ahead of the New York/New Jersey area and the Bay Area.
The analysis examined, among other factors, the share of the workforce employed in the life sciences and the federal research dollars flowing into the area. However, critics may debate how much credit Patrick deserves for the success of any sector of the economy.
On energy efficiency, Patrick points to the 2011 scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which ranked Massachusetts first in the nation, ahead of California. The analysis was based on factors such as building energy codes and appliance efficiency standards.