Who Governs America’s Freest States?

Who Governs America’s Freest States?

The American Legislative Exchange Council () – a non-partisan pro-free market advocacy organization – released a report this week ranking America’s governors on a scorecard of economic freedom.

Factors that ALEC and report co-authors at Arthur Laffer & Associates considered in their rankings covered a wide range of topics including education, taxes, and government spending.

These are governors of the 10 freest states in America, according to ALEC’s rankings. States were ranked in all categories from 1 to 50, best to worst:

, South Dakota

Noem ranked high in pretty much every category considered by ALEC, including education quality (5), low welfare dependency (1), and gross state product (GSP) growth (4). The authors of ALEC’s report noted that South Dakota’s GSP has grown by almost 1% every quarter since Noem was inaugurated in January of 2019. It was also noted that prior to Noem becoming Governor, her state was an “afterthought” in conversations about the country’s economy, but has since reversed course and is on track to become a “major player”.

, Utah

Education policy was one of Governor Cox’s strongest metrics, as he ranked 4th in education quality and 7th in education freedom. With low welfare dependency and unemployment, it seems like the investment in Utah’s education system pays dividends down the line, and well-educated Utahns get good jobs in their adult years. Others are also taking notice of how Cox’s policies can benefit them in the present and in the future, as the state ranked 13th in terms of migration into the state.

, Florida

One area that DeSantis stands out in is net migration. He avoided locking his state down during the COVID-19 pandemic, standing by the idea that the residents of his state could be trusted to make the decisions that were best for the health of themselves and their families. That action – combined with an already pro-growth business environment and no personal income tax – was a leading factor in drawing over 300,000 people to live in Florida during DeSantis’ first term.

, Colorado

Governor Polis was the only Democrat on the list, but he beat out many Republicans for a spot in the top 10, even the top five. Colorado stood out from fellow states in the Education category. The authors of the report noted that “Governor Polis has been a strong supporter of … literacy education.”

, Idaho

After previously serving as Idaho’s Lieutenant Governor for a decade, Brad Little has really made an effort to make his mark on the people of his state. In his first term, Governor Little has “signed a bill reducing the state’s flat corporate income tax rate and top personal income tax rate from 6.925 percent to 6.5 percent, while consolidating seven personal income tax brackets into five”.

, Tennesee

The Volunteer State currently ranks second lowest in debt per capita, and that helped get Governor Lee on this top 10 list. ALEC noted that all of the “five-star governors have a good track record of keeping government spending and debt under control, all while pushing for personal and corporate income tax reform.” Already one of nine states with no income tax, Tennessee took steps to further low the tax burden on its residents by eliminating “unearned” income tax, which taxed income derived from capital gains, dividends, and interest.

Chris Sununu, New Hampshire

Tax-cutting measures taken by Governor Sununu were also praised in the report. New Hampshire is another one of the nine states with no personal income tax, and Governor Sununu took steps to further that by approving a “phase out” of taxes on “unearned” income. The interest and dividends tax is currently 5%, and is set to decrease one percent each year between 2023 and 2026 before being eliminated.

, Arizona

During the COVID-19 pandemic, several governors cut off federal unemployment benefits to the residents of their states months before the money ran out. Ducey and his administration took a different approach and instead used the money to incentivize people to seek employment again by providing a “back-to-work” bonus of $2,000, the largest one noted in the report.

, Georgia

The Peach State ranked well in categories such as low welfare dependency (8) and spending per capita (5). ALEC’s report also noted that Governor Kemp “proposed closing a projected budget gap with wide-ranging cost reductions and significant cutbacks in bond financing.” This is in line with his measured approach to spending and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

, Texas

Under Abbott’s leadership, Texas ranked first in two categories considered by ALEC, education freedom and spending per capita. It is interesting to note that although Texas scored high in both those categories, the state only ranked 40th overall in the education quality category. State spending when looked at as a percentage of gross state product (GSP) has also steadily increased in Abbott’s second term after decreasing during his first term.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.

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