- Most Free
- Least Free
- #48 Overall
- #48 Economic
- #41 Personal
- Change in overall freedom, 2007–2009:
- Change in overall freedom ranking since 2007:
- Net domestic migration, 2000–2009 (% of 2000 population):
- Governor, 2011:
- Jerry Brown (D)
- Legislature, 2011:
- House 28R/52D, Senate 14R/25D
Contrary to popular perception, California not only taxes and regulates its economy more than most other states, it also aggressively interferes in the personal lives of its citizens. California simply needs to cut government spending. The budgetary categories most out of line with the rest of the country are administration, social services, environment and housing, and “other.” Labor laws are extremely strict, of course; for instance, California is one of only five states to mandate short-term disability insurance. Health-insurance coverage mandates add about 49 percent to the cost of premiums in the state. Eminent-domain reform has been cosmetic, and the state’s liability system almost reaches the abysmal quality of the Deep South’s. On personal freedoms, California does well on same-sex partnerships and marijuana, but it also has the most restrictive gun laws in the country, a highly restrictive policy regime for motorists, and smoking bans. The state’s civil asset-forfeiture regime is arguably the best in the country, apart from North Carolina’s, which has only criminal forfeiture.
- Repeal some health-insurance mandated coverages, such as acupuncture, orthotics, IVF, home health care, dental anesthesia, and bone-mass measurement.
- Cut state spending in the categories in which spending is well above national averages.
- Relax labor laws to boost employment, such as repealing short-term disability and paid family leave mandates.
State Freedom Calculator
You know how free your state is today, but how free could it be in the future? Here are four policies from each area of the index--fiscal, regulatory, and paternalist--that allow you to play policy maker. Select from the options below and observe as your state's rankings in economic, personal, and overall freedom will be recalculated in real time and your state's ranking will rise or fall depending on your choices.