The Washington Roundtable has released its 2015 report, Benchmarks for a Better Washington. The Roundtable, a founding partner of Opportunity Washington, began benchmarking critical public policy metrics in 2011. Here’s the organization’s explanation of the importance of the effort:
In 2011, the Washington Roundtable articulated a vision for Washington state: Make it a top 10 state for quality of life and innovation and ensure it is not one of the 10 most expensive states in which to do business. To measure progress, the Roundtable established the Benchmarks for a Better Washington, a set of metrics that speak to the heart of what constitutes a world class state – a climate of innovation, quality education, safe and efficient transportation networks, and a healthy business environment.
The Benchmarks helped guide the Opportunity Washington: Priorities for Shared Prosperity. In our research report, we said,
The Benchmarks acknowledge what it takes to succeed today: “To become and stay competitive in the global economy, Washington must engage in a balanced strategy that encourages innovation, high quality of life and a healthy business climate.”
This year’s Benchmarking report show that the state has made progress.
As compared to data released in the fall of 2014…Washington continues to be a leader in private sector job creation, moving up to 4th from 13th among the states.
Education continues to be a concern. With a high school graduation rate of 76.4 percent for the class of 2013, Washington fell to 40th among all states. Rather than moving closer to being a top 10 state, we risk falling into the bottom 10.
Our transportation system doesn’t rate well for quality or efficiency, falling among the bottom 20 states for road and bridge conditions as well as commute times. The state transportation investment approved this year in should help improve those rankings over time.
Business costs continue to be a concern. Washington ranks among the middle third of all states for business tax burden, but the state continues to have the nation’s highest workers’ compensation rates and is among the 10 worst states for unemployment insurance costs.
See the full report here. Benchmarking helps us focus our policy efforts on the activities and priorities most important to achieving our goals. The 2015 report is a welcome addition to the policy debate.