Alabama Ties with California ... For Last Place!
Alabama's government tied with California for last place in a survey published by The Government Performance Project. The group is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and is directed by the University of Richmond.
The survey ranked all 50 states for quality of state government. Alabama rated "C's" in managing money, people and information and a "D" in managing infrastructure such as highways and bridges. Its overall grade was "C-" compared to a median grade of "B-" for all states.
Despite this discouraging result the project editor, Richard Greene, said steps taken by Governor Bob Riley offer hope for improvement. He was especially impressed by the SMART budgeting process started last fall. Greene said it was an impressive effort to show taxpayers how tax dollars are used. Riley launched SMART budgeting after voters defeated his tax increases plan in September 2003. He hopes that state government can some day prove its efficiency to citizens so they will be willing to consider increased funding.
The grade of "D" for managing infrastructure pointed to serious problems with the state's roads and bridges. The Alabama Department of Transportation has a backlog of more than $1 billion and the total is growing by about $50 million a year.