Reynolds ranked 13th best governor in ALEC’s Economic Freedom Report


(The Center Square) — Gov. Kim Reynolds is a four-star governor for economic freedom in Iowa, according to a new ranking of U.S. governors.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) report ranks the 50 governors based on metrics related to economic freedom.

Reynolds placed 13th.

The “2021 Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom: Ranking America’s 50 Governors” ranks each governor on current economic performance and fiscal and executive policies during their respective terms. ALEC is a nonpartisan organization of state legislators focused on limited government, free markets, and federalism.

Executive policies include union control, academic freedom, and welfare dependency. Measures of economic performance ranged from interstate migration, quality of education, growth in gross state product, and unemployment rate. Fiscal policy included debt, corporate income tax, personal income tax, government spending per capita, and federal unemployment benefits.

Here are the Iowa standings and scores:

Executive Policy Rank: 8

  • Union control: 8.
  • Freedom of education: 1.
  • Welfare dependency: 18.

Economic performance ranking: 25

  • Interstate migration: 31.
  • Quality of education: 23.
  • GSP growth: 32.
  • Unemployment rate: 9.

Fiscal policy ranking: 14

  • Debt: 11.
  • Corporation tax: 3.
  • Income tax: 14.
  • Expenditure per capita: 30.
  • Federal unemployment benefits: 29.

ALEC chief economist Jonathan Williams said the measures differed from the group’s 2020 report, which focused on COVID-19 lockdown policies.

The report names South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — all Republicans — as the nation’s top three governors. Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, and Idaho Governor Brad Little, a Republican, round out the top five.


Others who made the top 10 were Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (6), New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (7), Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (8), Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (9 ) and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (10).

The bottom 10 were all Democrats: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (41), Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (42), Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (43), Hawaii Governor David Ige (44), Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy (45), former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (46), Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (47), California Governor Gavin Newsom (48), Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee (49) and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (50).

The top 10 governors shared some common traits: lower taxes, policies encouraging domestic energy production, a lower unemployment rate and a tendency to be among those who scrapped enhanced federal unemployment benefits as soon as possible, said Williams.

Here’s how the Midwestern states ranked:

  • South Dakota: 1.
  • Nebraska: 11.
  • Missouri: 12.
  • Iowa: 13.
  • North Dakota: 14.
  • Indiana: 19.
  • Kansas: 27.
  • Wisconsin: 30.
  • Minnesota: 31.
  • Ohio: 32.
  • Michigan: 41.
  • Illinois: 47.

The report ranked the governors of California, New York and Illinois in the bottom 10. These states have experienced population declines in recent years.

“There’s a lot of competition for the bottom,” Williams said. “They seek to empower government to have a more orderly and controlled top-down economic system where it empowers politicians and not markets, not business owners and individuals and of course what we see are revealed preferences, that’s what we call it in economics, people vote with their feet every year away from states like New York, California and Illinois.

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