The Buckeye Institute has had a year filled with accomplishments in Ohio. Its research and advocacy have led to a prison population decrease of nearly ten percent, the exposure of coercive civil asset forfeiture laws, and the passage of some of the most comprehensive occupational licensing reform in the country. These successes are just a few of the reasons the Buckeye Institute was a finalist for this year’s Templeton Freedom Award and is the winner of Atlas Network’s inaugural North America Liberty Award. Now, the Buckeye Institute closed out the year with the release of its Economic Freedom of North America report. The report was facilitated in partnership with the Fraser Institute of Vancouver, Canada. The report evaluates every state in the U.S. and assigns them a rank based on their level of economic freedom. The findings suggest that the Buckeye Institute has its work cut out in 2019 as Ohio finishes 38 out of 50 in the rankings.
"For Ohioans, this report paints a concerning picture,” explained Andrew J. Kidd, Ph.D. — an economist with The Buckeye Institute's Economic Research Center — in its press release on the report. “Ohio moved up several spots a year ago, driven by Governor John Kasich's tax reform efforts. Yet, this year, Ohio has stayed in roughly the same position, taking up membership with the bottom third of economically free states. When looking at Ohio's rankings in specific categories, it is easy to understand why so many Ohioans struggle to achieve any form of economic prosperity."
The report considers factors like government spending, the structure of state taxes, and freedom of the labor market in order to determine how much economic freedom is possible in each state. Ohio ranks 44th in government spending, 29th in taxes, and 34th in labor market freedom. Of all the things the report explains about Ohio’s economic future, perhaps the most troubling is the imminent insolvency of the state’s retirement system.
“This ranking highlights the looming crisis that Ohio faces if it fails to reform its retirement system,” continued Buckeye’s press release. “In a 2016 Mercatus Center report, researchers found that Ohio had only enough in assets to cover payments for the next decade. Unless Ohio reforms its retirement plans, mounting pension costs will require cuts to critical government services or sharp tax increases.”
In spite of these challenges, the Buckeye Institute is confident that the implementation of classical liberal, common-sense reforms can change the course of Ohio’s economic future and usher in greater prosperity.
“Ohio can increase the economic freedom offered to its citizens," concluded Dr. Kidd. "Reforms to Ohio's pension system, controlled and prudent government spending, and a simplified tax code are changes that can make Ohio an economic freedom leader."