New York, the least free state in the country

Since 2000, The Empire State has ranked last on the Cato Institute's "Index of Personal and Economic Freedom." It was followed by Hawaii and California in 49th and 48th place, respectively.

New York was again named the country's "least free state", ranking 50th in a recently released study by the Cato Institute that measures "personal and economic freedom" in each state in the nation.

2023 by Veronica Silveri on Scribd

New York scored the worst in state and local debt and taxes (i.e. the highest), government spending, land use and labor policy.

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Since 2000, New York has been the state with the least freedom. In the ranking, it was preceded by Hawaii and California in 49th and 48th place, respectively:

New York has been the least free state in the country for a long time. In fact, the Empire State has been the worst state for freedom in every year since our data set began in 2000. Economic freedom is the most significant weakness and is continuing to get worse absolutely. The state has made gains on personal freedom and is now30th. New York’s terrible economic freedom score is going to continue to drag the state down—and harm its ability to realize its full economic potential.

The creators of the ranking recommend that the New York government and officials cut spending and taxes, pay down debt and abolish rent control laws.

The crisis in New York

The living conditions in New York have caused a great exodus of citizens to other states of the country. A survey published a few months ago by the Siena College Research Institute (SCRI) revealed that a third (27%) of New York residents have plans to leave the state in the next five years.

The reasons for the moves: New Yorkers are not happy with the state's cost of living. Some 67% of people say that it is expensive for them to live there, compared to 33% who say that the cost of living is fair. Crime is another issue of concern for residents. Forty-nine percent of respondents say they do not feel at all confident about how the state government intends to address this problem.

Another issue that worries respondents is raising children. In fact, 26% of respondents say that the education their children receive is negative, and 39% say that they do not consider the state to be the ideal place for children to grow up. Nor do they have confidence in the medical care provided by the state. Twenty-seven percent believe that public health care is deficient in New York.

State politics also generates discontent among New York residents. More than half of those polled, 57%, said they take a dim view of state representatives and, especially, the state's current tax hike. Likewise, the immigration and homelessness crisis is driving citizens to leave the state.

All of these reasons amount to why 31% of those surveyed plan to leave New York as soon as they retire. This is a worrying figure, said SCRI Director Don Levy:

These are high numbers. These are take your breath away numbers. ... Most plan to stay but 27% say that
they will leave the state within the next five years. While only 38% give the state an excellent or good rating as a place to retire, 60% plan to spend their golden years here. Still, 31%, including 39% of young people and 41% of Republicans, plan to retire elsewhere.

New Hampshire and Florida are the most free

New Hampshire tops the ranking of most free states, followed by Florida. According to the analysis:

New Hampshire is once again the freest state in the Union and in 2022 set the record for the highest freedom score ever recorded in the 21st century. Governor Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire legislature have much to be proud of. 

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Lacking an individual income tax and featuring a hot climate, Florida has long enjoyed substantial in-migration of well-off retirees. Florida does especially well on fiscal policy, on which it is number one in the country. Florida’s personal freedom has lagged in the past; however, it has improved a lot since 2014.

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