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Best government services in the nation

Minnesota may be a high-tax state, but at least residents can be proud that it provides the best government services in the nation, according to rankings by

The group looked at each state’s infrastructure, educational system, overall health, overall safety, economic activity and level of pollution — and only Minnesota was in the top 10 in each category.

Nobody else even came close. Vermont came in second overall, and while it had high ratings in education, safety and pollution, it scored in the double digits in infrastructure, health and the economy.

North Dakota, which scored well for low taxes, was ranked 14 in overall government services — scoring poorly in education, health and safety; though it scored very well on infrastructure, economics and pollution.

Iowa ranked No. 6 for overall government services, held back by poor scores on infrastructure and pollution.

Wisconsin ranked No. 16 for overall government services, scoring high on education, but fair to middlin’ in the other categories.

Poor Mississippi brings up the rear again, with dismal ratings in every category except safety.

All in all, taxpayers in blue (Democrat-led) states get a slightly better return on investment, with an average rank of 27.3 compared to 24.7 for red (Republican-led) states.

But most of the top 11 return-on-investment rankings are dominated by red states.

The top five are Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, Washington and North Dakota.

They are followed by Colorado, Florida and Texas (which tied for 7th place) Utah, and Massachusetts.

Minnesota came in 17th overall in the return on investment rate, since its No. 1 ranking in government services was offset by its No. 38 ranking in tax rate.

As WalletHub puts it, there is sometimes a disconnect in the minds of taxpayers between the amount they fork over each April and what they ultimately receive from the government in return.

“Tax Day is a tangible, painful reminder of our investments in federal, state and local governments, but it’s difficult to discern the government’s precise role in our day-to-day quality of life and overall pursuit of happiness.”

Maybe that’s why, according to WalletHub, 52 percent of people think they pay too much in taxes and most people think about half of their tax dollars are wasted.

“Ideological differences regarding the role of local taxation have resulted in residents of each state shouldering dramatically different tax burdens.  This, of course, begs the question of whether people in high-tax states benefit from correspondingly superior government services or if low-tax states are more efficient.

In short, where do taxpayers get the most and least bang for their buck?”

WalletHub sought to answer that question by contrasting state and local tax rates to the quality of the services that are funded at those levels — and that’s where the return-on-investment rankings came from.

While Minnesota’s economy is humming along (its economic growth rate basically trails only the oil-state beehives of North Dakota and Texas) the WalletHub data shows that the DFL-controlled state government should keep a skeptical eye on proposals for new taxes.