Salt Lake City, UT (August 16, 2016) — A new report issued by the Cato Institute, Freedom in the 50 States, highlights the degree to which states protect the personal and economic freedom of their citizens. Utah was ranked 20th.
The report—first published in 2009 by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University—grades states in three areas:
- Fiscal policy: taxes, government employment, spending, debt, and fiscal decentralization
- Regulatory policy: liability system, property rights, health insurance, and labor market
- Personal freedom: a variety of categories including incarceration rates, marriage laws, education, guns, and alcohol
The report notes that “Utah does very well on regulatory policy overall” and “generally well on criminal justice policy,” though “quite poorly on alcohol, cannabis, gambling, and tobacco.”
Scholars also observe that Utah “had an excellent asset forfeiture law, but it has been successively weakened, most recently in 2013–14.” Libertas Institute has been at the forefront of this issue in recent years and will be supporting a reform effort by Representative Brian Greene in the 2017 legislative session.
Libertas Institute president Connor Boyack issued the following statement in light of the new report:
“While our state rightly receives many accolades for economic growth, there are other factors that place us well behind our peers. We remain committed to seeing Utah in the top 10 of this list in the future; our great state should not be in the middle of the pack when it comes to freedom.”