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A Ranking of Freedom in North Carolina

Using established measures of economic freedom from the Cato Institute, the Tax Foundation, and the Fraser Institute, one can readily see that there has been much progress, but there remains much to improve. Achieving our goal of “First In Freedom” requires more action, a faster pace, and a greater impact. We must match our bold aspirations with bold action. Great ideas are necessary, but not sufficient, to expand economic freedom. It takes intentional actions to turn those ideas into measurable outcomes.

Heading into 2010, North Carolina ranked near the bottom on virtually all measures of economic freedom and especially on the measures we are concerned with in our Freedom Index – tax freedom, regulatory freedom, education freedom, health care freedom. The reforms enacted in 2011-2016, especially in tax, education, and regulatory policy, lifted North Carolina out of the bottom and into a more friendly environment for economic freedom to expand.

This was especially true in tax freedom, where on the Tax Foundation’s broad measure of business tax climate, North Carolina catapulted from 41st in the nation to 11th. The area where North Carolina has not improved its measures is in health care freedom. This is largely because North Carolina continues to enforce one of the strictest certificate-of-need laws in the country. Certificate-of-need laws severely restrict competition in the medical services market, with little freedom for consumer choice.

This snapshot shows that, overall, North Carolina remains on a sure and steady path of expanding economic freedom for its citizens. If government overreaches, freedom must not only stand strong; it must advance.

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