The John Locke Foundation recently released their First in Freedom Index measuring which American states are the freest in the land. The foundation determined their rankings first by fiscal policy – balancing taxes and spending — then by education, regulations, and finally healthcare. What they found might surprise some folks, but not conservatives. The five freest states in the nation are all Republican led and Republican voting states. They are in order from most free – Florida, Arizona, Indiana, South Dakota and Georgia. Meanwhile the five least free states are either Democrat or states with strong Democrat influences, in order from least free – New York, New Jersey, California, West Virginia and Kentucky.
While West Virginia and Kentucky may strike you as “GOP” states (true in national elections), they actually have strong Democrat support at the state level. In fact, West Virginia and Kentucky’s local economies have been ruined (and are just now starting to rebound) after decades of Democrat leadership and Union control.
How about the freest (and least free) states in the individual categories:
The most fiscally free states are: South Dakota, Wyoming, Nevada, Texas, and Florida.
The most educationally free states are: Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, and Louisiana.
The states most free from regulation are: Iowa, Georgia, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Vermont.
The states most free in health-care choice are: Idaho, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and Indiana.
Some other interesting notes from the Study:
- The 10 states with the highest FFI rankings have had a 2.3 percent annual average growth rate in inflation-adjusted gross domestic product since 2011, while the 10 states with the lowest FFI rankings have posted average annual GDP growth rates of 1.5 percent.
- The 10 states with the highest FFI rankings in educational freedom have average National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for low-income 4th-graders that are two points higher in reading and one point higher in math than the average NAEP scores for low-income 4th-graders in the 10 states with the lowest educational-freedom rankings.
- The 10 states with the highest FFI rankings in health care freedom have average health-care costs of $6,533 per person, according to the most recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The 10 states with the lowest health care freedom have average health-care costs of $7,689 per person, or 18 percent more than those of the 10 freest states.
This study can help us to better understand the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) 2015 study that also revealed that the ten most prosperous states of the last decade were all right-leaning.
The most prosperous states in the past ten years were:
- North Dakota
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
Interesting numbers indeed.