Thanks to tight fiscal policy, Idaho rose 11 spots since the last report for 2009, making it the “most improved state” in the “Freedom in the 50 States” study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
The Gem State ranks high in the study’s 2011 economic freedom scale but poorly on personal freedom, in part because of the state monopoly on liquor sales, says the report.
The freest states, says Mercatus: No. 1 North Dakota, No. 2 South Dakota, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 New Hampshire and No. 5. Oklahoma.
The least free? No. 50 New York, No. 49 California, No. 48 New Jersey, No 47 Hawaii and No. 46. Rhode Island.
To climb into the Freest Five, the report makes the following policy recommendations:
- Cut government spending and employment, especially on general administration, public buildings, and sanitation and sewerage, where the state is above the national average. Use savings to cut the general sales tax.
- Give eminent domain reform some real teeth by prohibiting all private-to-private transfers, making blight standards building-specific, and placing limits in the constitution.
- Privatize the state alcohol monopolies and adopt a license system. This reform alone would have raised Idaho eight places on personal freedom.