By Jon Street | Vermont Watchdog
FREEDOM ISN’T FREE: Vermont tied as one of the “least free” states
The results are in and they’re not pretty.
Vermont is one of the “least free” states, according to a report on economic freedom in North America.
“It’s sad, but not surprising. What’s worse is we’re headed in the wrong direction,” said Rob Roper, president of the Ethan Allen Institute, a Vermont-based free-market think tank.
The report looked at things like how much the government contributes to the overall state economy and workforce, levels of tax revenue, minimum wage laws and labor union density.
Generally, states that have higher taxes, enforce higher minimum wage laws and require workers to join labor unions are considered to be the “least free” states in terms of economic freedom.
The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C., ranked Vermont 13th in the country for the highest combined state and local taxes in 2010, the most recent year for which complete data are available.
Higher taxes generally mean more government involvement in economic enterprise, thus limiting the economic freedom of the private sector.
Vermont’s minimum wage of $8.60 per hour, another contributing factor for it being ranked one of the “least free” states, is higher than the national average minimum wage of $7.25, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That means employers and their employees have fewer options to negotiate wages and other employee benefits. In effect, a higher minimum wage can make it more difficult for employers to hire more workers, potentially limiting how fast a business can grow.
Vermont’s labor union laws don’t help its case for economic freedom either.