Pew! Bay State Government Stinks

1204641709A new Pew Center study gives Massachusetts’ state government a “C” grade — the third-worst mark handed out. The only surprising thing is that Beacon Hill pols managed to avoid finishing last.

Luckily for Gov. Deval Patrick, Speaker Sal DiMasi and the rest of the gang, Rhode Island (C-minus) and New Hampshire (D-plus) are apparently more screwed than we are. Notice that states like New Jersey and Arkansas fared better.

If you’ve ever been to Arkansas (or even if you haven’t), you realize how truly depressing that is. How is it possible that Massachusetts — currently running an incredible $18 billion debt — didn’t come in at the bottom? Maybe the researchers really liked the idea of letting moms whip out their breasts and feed their children in public.

Aside from that, it’s hard to figure. After all, we’re on the hook for billions in a little Dig Disaster you may have heard about, not to mention some other fiscal problems Pew helpfully points out.

The study cited a litany of Bay State concerns… including skyrocketing health care costs and a $1 billion structural budget gap.

“Massachusetts is literally and figuratively digging itself into a deeper and deeper hole in terms of its infrastructure,” said Richard Greene, co-author of the Pew report.

Greene noted that Massachusetts is carrying more than $18 billion in overall debt – the highest per capita in the nation – and faces a $1-billion-per-year problem to maintain transportation infrastructure over the next 20 years. Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed reducing that backlog by consolidating costly state transportation departments into a new super-agency known as MassTrans, but he has yet to formally file his legislation on Beacon Hill.

It’s no wonder, given the long odds we face, that the governor is opposing a recent push to eliminate the state income tax. To do so, given the deficit, would be fiscally irresponsible of him. It truly would. Of course, cutting some of the budgetary costs and pork projects might help lower the deficit, but that sounds hard.

Incidentally, ever lived in a state with no income tax? It’s pretty fantastic, if only because you get to, you know, spend your own money. But don’t worry — eliminating the income tax here would only save the state’s three million taxpayers an average of $3,600 per year.

Mere chump change. You can’t even get a used Cadillac for that.