By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s neighbor to the south just snatched the title of “best state in the country,” leaving Minnesota to settle for first runner-up.

The U.S News & World Report just unveiled their annual rankings Tuesday morning.

“Our Best States ranking from U.S. News is a humbling tribute to our people who have proven time and again that in Iowa, if you’re willing to work hard, you can accomplish anything,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “Every Iowan contributes to the success of their community and our state, and we celebrate this honor knowing that our work to build a better Iowa will never be finished.”

Rounding out the top five were Utah, North Dakota, and New Hampshire. Wisconsin ranked 11th on the list, and South Dakota came in at #14.

Louisiana came out worst in the rankings, trailed by Mississippi and New Mexico.

The rankings take into account eight different criteria: education, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, health, crime, fiscal stability, and overall quality of life.

Minnesota’s highest rankings were for quality of life (second behind North Dakota) and opportunity (third, behind New Hampshire and Maryland).

On one of those “still winter, but feels like spring” afternoons, Minnesotans answered the call to be outside. Countless people strolled around Lake Bde Maka Ska, others stopped to take pictures at Minnehaha Falls as temperatures hit the 40s.

“I like how you have the four seasons and it’s really pretty,” said Whitney Martin, a transplant from Washington.

The outdoors allure, no matter the time of year, has always been one of the state’s calling cards.

In the U.S. News and World Report state rankings, Minnesota ranked second in quality of life — a category that takes nature into account.

“We have a community spirit that you just kind of get out. In the winter you don’t hunker down and wait for it to be over,” said Chris Sigurdson.

The state is also on the right track when it comes to infrastructure, ranking sixth.

People applauded the light rail and bus systems but some pumped the brakes on grading Metro highways.

“I don’t think it’s something that I would put there as one of the reasons I would live in Minnesota,” said Sigurdson.

“I think we have some of the nice roads out there which I know comes from having as much construction as we do,” said Daniel Tacheny of Champlin.

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