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CATO Institute: Minnesota 38th freest U.S. state

(The Center Square) – Minnesota placed #38 nationwide in CATO Institute’s 2021 Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom report, which is based on 2019 policies.

The rankings use 230 policy variables to rank states on how their policies promote freedom in fiscal, regulatory and personal realms. The CATO Institute is a public policy think tank based on libertarian ideals to promote limited government, free markets and peace.

Minnesota ranks around or below average for personal (22nd), regulatory (34th) and fiscal (39th) freedom. Personal freedom analyzes victimless crimes, guns, tobacco and education factors. Florida ranked No. 1 nationally in both fiscal policy freedom and economic freedom. Nevada ranked first in the nation for personal freedom.

“Minnesota is a classic ‘blue state’ in that it scores well above average on personal freedom and below average on economic freedom,” the report said. “However, it has fallen relative to other states on personal freedom since 2006 as others have caught up and surpassed it.”

Minnesota is fiscally centralized, with low local taxes (3.1% adjusted personal income) and high state taxes (8.4%). It said tax burden, 11.5%, is high. The state performs above average on public employment and government consumption.

Debt and liquid assets are about average, as are land use and environmental freedom.

“The state suffers from strict renewable portfolio standards that consistently got worse from 2010 to 2015,” the report said.

Minnesota is below average on labor policy, lacking a right to work law.

The highest Minnesota has ranked in overall freedom in the past 20 years is 19th, which was in 2003. Its ranking in 2019 was three positions higher than in 2018.

CATO recommends Minnesota trims spending on areas where it spends much more than the average, including public welfare, parking lots, natural resources, parks and recreation, and unemployment compensation. Individual income and selective sales, which are higher than “national norms,” should decrease, it said. The institution also recommends that Minnesota allow the sale beer, wine and spirits in grocery stores and deregulates telecommunications and cable entry and pricing.

“The state moved to partially deregulate telecommunications in 2015, as we recommended in previous editions of this study, but cable remains untouched,” the report said.

You can read Minnesota’s specific rankings here.


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