(The Center Square) – Never worse than seventh or better than third, Tennessee retained its traditional top 10 spot in this month’s release of the Freedom in the 50 States.
Tennessee is No. 6 in the analysis by the Cato Institute. New Hampshire edged Florida for No. 1; New York was No. 50.
Cato’s fiscal policy recommendations in the report say, “Separate spending and tax committees in the Legislature, a reform shown to correspond to lower spending over time. Sales taxes are high and could be cut.”
Regulatory recommendations are, “Repeal the price-gouging law and all minimum-markup laws.” And recommendations for personal freedoms are, “Build on the 2023 school choice expansion to enact universal choice. Deregulate private schools and homeschools by removing mandatory approval and teacher licensing for private schools and relaxing annual notification requirements for homeschoolers.”
Tennessee was No. 3 in 2000 and 2001, and was No. 7 each year from 2012 to 2015.
Cato says, “Tennessee has long been one of the economically freest states, largely because of its outstanding fiscal policies, but it also used to be one of the personally freest states in the South. That edge disappeared as it became a more stereotypical red state. As a result, Tennessee fell from third in overall freedom in 2001 to seventh in 2012. It has recovered some ground since.”
No income tax and having better than national averages in state and local taxes help the ranking. Hurting the marks are criminal justice policies, the report says. Tennessee is outside of the top 30 there.
The report says, “The state has little gambling, though it has now relaxed internet gambling and legalized sports betting as of 2019. Educational freedom is slightly below average, but a voucher program was passed in 2019 and expanded in 2023. Private schools and homeschools face significant regulatory burdens.”