The American Legislative Exchange Council was out last week with the ninth edition of the Rich States, Poor States ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitive Index rankings. As ALEC is a conservative-leaning think tank, the response was predictable. One left-leaning analyst told the Daily Caller that the conclusions of the report were "silly" in that it ranks states with cities such as New York and Los Angeles, the most vibrant in the nation, near the bottom of the pack. Yet, when current conditions are compared to those in the past, it is irrefutable that those cities are slipping in terms of competitiveness.
The study ranks all 50 states based on their economic outlook, calculated by weighing 15 variables in critical economic policy areas. Therefore, it is no surprise that of the states in the top 10 for economic outlook, six (Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana, Arizona, North Dakota and North Carolina) also qualified for the most recent State Tax Cut Roundup as states that substantially reduced taxes
The ninth edition of Rich States, Poor States provides a good example of how various types of reforms can make a state’s economic climate more competitive, and therefore more attractive to individuals and businesses. Because the state’s right-to-work law was effective for the first time in a Rich States, Poor States index, Wisconsin earned an all-time best ranking of nine, its first time in the top 10. The law’s life expectancy is now in doubt, though, following a recent court ruling against it. The fate of workers who oppose forced unionization and the state’s economic competitiveness hang in the balance. Thankfully, many believe the ruling will likely be overturned. Tennessee improved the most of any state this year, moving from 17 to seven, by virtue of fully eliminating its inheritance tax. Florida is among the biggest winners in Rich States, Poor States, not only because of its top 10 ranking, but also because, after Texas, no state has seen more Americans move in from other states in the past decade. By virtue of reducing its Communication Services Tax, saving taxpayers $266 million in the process and reducing the overall burden on businesses in the state, Florida will cement its position among the best states in the nation for economic outlook.