Florida ranks number one in fiscal and economic freedom takes second place for freedom in the U.S. overall, according to the CATO Institute’s index measuring personal and economic freedom.
“Florida ranks #1 among the states for economic freedom!” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) celebrated on social media Monday.
His happiness was made clear as the analysis explains why Florida surpasses the 49 remaining states in this particular category, pointing first to the state’s lack of individual state income tax:
Florida’s state-level tax collections are more than 1.5 standard deviations below the national average, whereas its local tax collections are a little lower than average. Florida’s fiscal decentralization does not offer a great deal of choice to homeowners, however, because the state has only about half an effective competing jurisdiction per 100 square miles. Government consumption and debt are lower than average. Government employment is much below average, falling from 11.2 percent of private employment in 2010 to 8.3 percent in 2019.
Florida also ranks number one on fiscal policy while taking the second spot in the overall freedom ranking, which takes a range of categories into consideration — from guns and labor to health insurance and education. Notably, the state’s personal freedom score has increased exponentially since 2013, jumping from 37 to 12:
According to the analysis:
After falling relative to other states for a decade, Florida has improved its personal freedom score with big jumps in 2014 and 2015. It is now well above average. Part of this bump was because of the Supreme Court’s nationalization of same-sex marriage. Before that decision, Florida did not recognize any kind of same-sex partnership, and it banned private contracts similar to marriage with a super-DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). Florida also reformed its civil asset forfeiture regime in 2016, including requiring proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” for forfeitures. On the downside, the state’s crime-adjusted incarceration rate has fallen a bit from its high but is still a lot worse than average (although criminal justice reform efforts promise help on that front). Arrests for victimless crimes have fallen significantly. Florida is one of the top states for educational freedom, although homeschool regulations remain substantial. The cannabis regime is largely unreformed despite recent liberalization of medical marijuana policy (which we recommended in the fourth edition), whereas alcohol is lightly regulated despite beer and wine taxes being a bit high. Gun rights are mediocre and became more restrictive in 2018, as the state has waiting periods for handguns, local dealer licensing, and virtually no open carry. It does have a “Stand Your Ground” law and protects the right to use sound suppressors. Tobacco freedom is middling. Automated license plate reader data use and retention have been partially reformed. The state takes DNA from arrestees without a probable cause hearing.
The state’s status as number one economically comes over two years after the Chinese coronavirus and over one year after President Biden’s time in the White House, as inflation and gas prices soar and the country slips into a recession.
Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to a historic low of 2.7 percent in July– 0.8 percent lower than the national unemployment rate in Biden’s America.
“U.S. GDP dropped for a second quarter in a row, which is the definition of a recession,” DeSantis said in July following another dire economic report.
“While the Biden Administration and its legacy media cheerleaders are trying to gaslight people about the economic slowdown, we have seen Biden’s poor economic stewardship and the negative impact it has had on families,” he continued.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 28, 2022