(The Center Square) – Freedom for Ohioans has improved steadily over the past two decades, according to a new report.
Ohio ranked 21st in the country in the recently released Freedom in the 50 States analysis from the Cato Institute, up two spots from 2021 and up 20 places from 20 years ago, achieved through fiscal and personal freedoms improvements.
“Ohio was as bad as 46th on personal freedom in 2014 but is now 29th,” the report reads. “It should trouble residents of the Buckeye State that their state’s policy regime is still worse than that of other Great Lakes states that have been reforming, such as Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Regulatory policy is where Ohio really falls down relative to its neighbors.”
Ohio taxes are less than the national average, along with state and local debt, government consumption and public employment.
The report criticized the state’s low minimum wage, lack of right-to-work law, and costly health insurance mandates.
It also said the state has a higher-than-average crime incarceration rate that continues to rise.
The report called Ohio a top educational freedom state due to its statewide voucher program and recently expanded eligibility.
“We began this project to fill a need. Freedom in the 50 States was the first index at any level to measure economic and personal freedoms and remains the only one at the state level. We also strive to make it the most comprehensive and definitive source for economic freedom data on the American states,” the report reads.
Freedom in the 50 States ranked the states according to how public policies affect individual freedoms in economic, social and personal areas. It looked at state and local government in policy areas like taxation, debt, eminent domain, occupational licensing, drug policies and educational choice.
This is the sixth year for the study.
New Hampshire ranked as the most free state in the country, setting a record for the highest freedom score.
Florida ranked second, followed by South Dakota, Nevada and Arizona.
New York, Hawaii, California, New Jersey and Oregon were the least free states.