Nevada ranking 12th in the nation in terms of economic and personal freedom, according to the Cato Institute, is not too shabby, until you notice that we’ve fallen from No. 5 in 2000.
Having legalized gambling and county-option legalized prostitution probably helps in the personal freedom category, but we’ve been marked down for continually raising taxes.
Cato did falsely credit the state Supreme Court for some of this. “Nevada’s fiscal policy has worsened over time, a fact that might have something to do with a 2003 Nevada Supreme Court decision setting aside part of the state constitution, which required a supermajority for tax increases,” the Cato piece reports, neglecting to notice that the court repudiated that Guinn v. Legislature decision three years later.
Despite that oversight in blame laying, Cato notes that state-level taxes have risen from a low of 4.9 percent of personal income in 2009 to about 5.9 percent today. Local taxes have also risen. Also government debt is well above average and rising. That is probably due to the unfunded liability for the public employee pension fund.
We lose points in the area of education, Cato notes, “Nevada was one of the worst states for educational freedom. Private schools are tightly regulated, facing mandatory state approval, mandatory teacher licensing, and detailed private school curriculum control. However, our index does not take account of the educational savings account plan passed in 2015, which in 2014 would have raised its educational freedom score to average.”
Cato also attributes Nevada’s higher than average police spending on our socio-economic model instead of the strong local unions.