- Most Free
- Least Free
- #21 Overall
- #23 Economic
- #20 Personal
- Change in overall freedom, 2007–2009:
- Change in overall freedom ranking since 2007:
- Net domestic migration, 2000–2009 (% of 2000 population):
- Governor, 2011:
- Matt Mead (R)
- Legislature, 2011:
- House 50R/10D, Senate 26R/4D
Wyoming tied California as the state that declined the most in terms of overall freedom and settled in at 21st in the nation. In Wyoming’s case, the decline was largely due to fiscal problems as falling energy prices led to a fall in personal income, the denominator in the fiscal-policy variables. Wyoming would be wise to mimic its neighbors South Dakota, Idaho, and Colorado in economic matters. It taxes and spends more than those states, though its government debt remains the lowest in the country. Fortunately for its citizens, severance taxes provide a large part of the state’s revenue. Wyoming is highly fiscally decentralized. However, the government payroll is much too large, more than two standard deviations above the national average. Wyoming is also close to the median in personal freedom. It has very little gun control. Beer taxes are the lowest in the country, and spirits taxes are also very low. Moreover, motorist freedoms are broad and drivers do not have to face sobriety checkpoints. Cigarette taxes are low, and smoking bans have exceptions. Victimless-crimes arrests are quite high, but the drug law-enforcement rate is average. Private schools are fairly regulated while homeschools are not, with the exception of heavy notification requirements. Wyoming has the worst type of asset-forfeiture regime in the country (along with a number of other states). Labor laws are market friendly, except for Wyoming’s odd requirement that employers must contribute to a state monopoly fund for workers’ compensation. Health insurance regulation is among the least intrusive in the country; health-coverage mandates are nearly a standard deviation below average. Some eminent domain reform has occurred.
- Reduce the number of state employees to levels more consistent with national norms.
- Reform asset-forfeiture laws to make it more difficult for government to seize assets and reduce the incentive to do so by lowering the percentage of proceeds that go to law enforcement.
- Deregulate telecommunications and cable.
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.