CATO’s Freedom in the 50 States is out, and as usual, New Hampshire Ranks near the top. This year’s survey put the Granite State at number two for economic and social freedom, behind Florida, but notes that New Hampshire is the most improved state overall.
Note that since 2000 New Hampshire has been either number one or number two in this survey.
But local Democrats are trying to shift our taxing and regulatory schemes to mimic the other New England States. What does that look like?
In Cato’s Freedom in the 50 States report, which assesses economic and social freedoms, New Hampshire is ranked #2, while Massachusetts is #23, Maine is #39, Vermont is #46, and New York is #50.
New Hampshire has the fifth lowest state and local tax burden in the nation as a percent of income. By this measure, New Hampshire taxes are 14 percent lower than Massachusetts, 27 percent lower than Maine, 28 percent lower than Vermont, and 40 percent lower than New York.
Do New Hampshire’s low taxes result in poor public services? Not at all. U.S. News ranks New Hampshire public schools third best in the nation and the state second on overall quality of life. Besides, poor public services would repel residents, yet New Hampshire enjoys net in‐migration from other states, while all nearby states except Maine suffer out‐migration.
New Hampshire has consistently low poverty rates and above-average living standards, all without a mandatory minimum wage or the typical broad-based taxes Democrats impose to grow government.
Personal income grew by almost 2%, while net migration was up by nearly 3%.
And that’s the thing that makes New Hampshire better overall. As CATO notes, “New Hampshire has one of the most restrained governments in the nation,” and the reason for that is property taxes. Local taxes keep control close to home and in front of taxpayers.
Regulation, on the other hand, continues to be our Achilles heel.
New Hampshire’s regulatory outlook is not so sunny. Its primary sin is exclusionary zoning. It is generally agreed that the Granite State is one of the four worst states in the country for residential building restrictions. Part of the problem might be the absence of a regulatory taking law. However, the eminent domain law is strong. On labor-market freedom, New Hampshire is below average primarily because of the absence of a right-to-work law and of any exceptions to the workers’ compensation mandate.
Occupational licensing is requirements are a major barrier to improvement, and real school choice continues to a problem. One that could address the rise in local taxes, almost all of which results from the education monopoly’s exponential demands for revenue in the face of declining enrollments and flat or declining academic achievement.
Democrats are pushing a statewide tax as an answer to ‘the problem’ high property taxes. They leave out that high property taxes are caused by Democrat’s opposition to school choice, public school policy, top-heavy administrative overhead, and teachers’ union demands.
In other words, Democrats created the problem, and now they have come to fix it. Their solution is to shift more of the cost burden to a statewide broad-based tax. It’s a trick. The result will be a decline in New Hampshire’s economic dynamism and a decline in economic freedom, quality of life, average income, and every other advantage New Hampshire enjoys.
We’ll be as lousy as the state’s around us.
So, as you decide who to vote for this November, remember the ‘Grok mantra. Republicans may not be perfect, but Democrats destroy everything they touch.