Mount Rainier

Come on, U.S. News, does this look like 15th in natural environment?

All too often, sunny California gets the credit for the West Coast’s charm and progressivism. But on Monday, it was Washington that U.S. News and World Report named the best state in the nation for the second year straight.

The ranking reflects how well the government has managed to serve its constituents, on topics weighted from a three-year national survey of over 70,000 people. Washington was buoyed by top five rankings in education, infrastructure, and the economy, ranking first in things like GDP growth and broadband access.

The report favors data on impacts, such as the percentage of the population with an associate’s degree, rather than investments in education. In 2019, the last time U.S. News ranked states, our booming clean energy and tech sectors pushed us up to the top spot. This year, we can also point to fertile grounds for venture capital—as fertile as our temperate forests and agricultural soils (though somehow we’re ranked 15th in the “natural environment” category)—as a major reason why we’re No. 1. 

We still have plenty of work to do: While we have 100 percent broadband access, 33 percent of rural Washington still waited a second or two for this web page. We also can’t claim much of a national lead in gender and racial equality.

But if the last year has shown us anything, it’s that we can solve problems quickly and creatively. Initially the U.S. epicenter of Covid-19, we’ve become the optimal place for work during the pandemic. Not bad, Washington.

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