Ascension in freedom continues; report puts Wisconsin No. 13 in country

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(The Center Square) – Less than 15 years ago, only six states were measured worse in freedom than Wisconsin.

Today, Wisconsin has climbed to No. 13 in the Cato Institute’s Freedom in the 50 States analysis. The sixth edition, out this month, says “credit for that goes to a rise in personal freedom, not just economic freedom.”

In personal freedom, Wisconsin was No. 48 in 2010, when overall it was No. 44. This year’s overall mark is up two spots.

There’s still work to be done, however, according to the index.

Cato’s fiscal policy recommendations in the report say, “Reduce the income tax burden while continuing to cut spending on employee retirement and government employment.”

Regulatory recommendations are, “Remove barriers to independent practice for nurse practitioners.” And recommendations for personal freedoms are, “Reform the state’s marijuana laws consistent with reforms carried out across the nation, including decriminalizing possession.”

The report says Wisconsin “is a top state for educational freedom, coming in at number seven. Educational freedom grew significantly in 2013–14 with the expansion of vouchers. However, private schools are tightly regulated.”

On workforce, the report says, “Apart from a right-to-work law, Wisconsin was already reasonably good on labor-market policy. It now ranks second in the country.”

Cato calls the asset forfeiture set-up among the best in the country.

With regard to alcohol and guns, Cato says, “Wisconsin remains the best state for alcohol freedom, with no state role in distribution, no keg registration, low taxes (especially – unsurprisingly – on beer), no blue laws, legal happy hours, legal direct wine shipment, and both wine and spirits in grocery stores. The state is now better than average on gun rights after the legislature passed a shall-issue concealed-carry license law in 2011 (one of the last states in the country to legalize concealed carry) and repealed a waiting period in 2015. Sobriety checkpoints are not authorized.”

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