(The Center Square) – Live Free or Die. It’s more than a motto in New Hampshire, according to a new report.
As it has four of the previous five editions, New Hampshire is No. 1 in the country in the Freedom in the 50 States analysis from the Cato Institute. Florida was No. 1 last time.
Cato’s fiscal policy recommendations in the report say, “Local governments need to get a handle on school spending and taxes. State government may be able to help by moving town meetings and local elections to coincide with state elections, boosting turnout and diluting the political power of insiders, or by adopting the Virginia model of off-year elections for state and local offices.”
Regulatory recommendations are, “Pass a right-to-work law that is consistent with free association, as described in Part 1. And recommendations for personal freedoms are, “Enact universal school choice to avoid falling behind on educational freedom given how proactive other states have been.”
In jockeying back in front, the report says, “In the more distant past, New Hampshire had a huge lead over the rest of the country on fiscal policy, a lead that partly dissipated between 2000 and 2008 because of big increases in local property taxes, which were in turn driven by growth in education spending. It has rebounded quite a bit in absolute terms but has been eclipsed by Florida on the fiscal front. New Hampshire grabs the top spot overall because it does well in both economic freedom (first) and personal freedom (fourth), something that is also true of number-four state Nevada but is not so much the case with Florida, which does great on economic freedom but is only 22nd on personal freedom.”
Cato says the overall tax burden is well below the national average of 7.4%, and taxes less than any other state but Alaska. Exclusionary zoning, the report says, is harmful to the regulatory outlook.
New Hampshire is No. 2 in education freedom, helped by the 2021 passage of expanded education freedom accounts.