- Most Free
- Least Free
- #39 Overall
- #33 Economic
- #44 Personal
- Change in overall freedom, 2007–2009:
- Change in overall freedom ranking since 2007:
- Net domestic migration, 2000–2009 (% of 2000 population):
- Governor, 2011:
- Jack Markell (D)
- Legislature, 2011:
- House 15R/26D, Senate 7R/14D
Delaware used to be known as a business haven, but that is changing. State and local debt has been mounting significantly, rising from 18.3 percent to 22.5 percent of personal income between FY 2006 and FY 2008. Government spending is high and rising, apparently due to boosts in federal grant funds, while taxes are about average. Even for its size, Delaware is fiscally centralized, and local governments are heavily dependent on grants. For a leftleaning East Coast state, Delaware is surprisingly about average on gun control and labor law, but does not do well enough on drugs: Its marijuana laws are poor, and Delaware is one of the few states to ban the virtually harmless psychedelic Salvia divinorum. On regulatory policy, Delaware stands out for a relatively light hand on health insurance, including one of the most parsimonious health-insurance coverage mandates regimes (adding just 21.9 percent to the cost of an average policy). Delaware also has the best liability system in the country. The one area of regulation where Delaware could improve markedly is land-use restrictions. However, it may be unreasonable to expect a high-density state to relax its control in this area. Delaware is one of five states with a statewide ban on all personal fireworks and has adopted one of the very strictest smoking bans in the United States. Its asset-forfeiture laws are also among the worst in the country.
- Make marijuana possession and low-level cultivation and sale misdemeanors, or even better, decriminalize them.
- Enact same-sex civil unions.
- Curb forfeiture abuse by requiring proof of owner culpability and/or by redirecting revenues away from law enforcement.
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.