Conservative group finds Florida the “most free” state in ‘Murica

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Florida is leading the way when it comes to protecting the freedom of its citizens. That’s according to theNorth Carolina-based John Locke Foundation’s Freedom Index.

The study analyzed fiscal policy including taxes and government spending, education policy as it relates to public and private school choice, regulatory policy looking at land use, occupational licensing and tort reform and healthcare policy.

Florida ranked number one in the freedom index overall. This is likely the result of not state tax and a long-time conservative controlled legislature that despises the notion of taxes and spending them. Fiscal policy was the most heavily weighted category accounting for half of a state’s overall score.

Florida ranked number one in educational freedom rankings. This should come as now surprise as lawmakers continue to build on school choice programs like the Florida Tax Credit Scholarships that give corporations tax credits for donating to a scholarship program that allows mostly low-income students to attend private schools using scholarship money.

The Sunshine State ranks number 5 in fiscal freedom. South Dakota, the ninth most Republican state in the nation according to a Gallup poll, came in first in this category.

Florida seems to be lagging quite a bit behind in regulatory freedom though. In that area the state ranks a dismal 45 with Iowa claiming the number one spot followed by Georgia and South Dakota. Florida ranks 30 in healthcare freedom.

Florida doesn’t rank quite so well in overall “freedom” in other studies. In the “Freedom in the 50 States” study, Florida came in at number 23. Florida got a 7.4 on a 2014 Frasier Institute study looking at how free a person is based on geography. That put the state in about the middle of the pack nationwide. The different findings are the result of each study weighting individual freedoms differently.

While these scores are traditionally seen as a partisan divide – GOP-leaning states being more “free” and more liberal states ranking as less so – there are some outliers.

For example, Florida’s number 45 ranking on regulatory freedoms lumps it into the bottom ten where 7 of those states are considered blue. Meanwhile, Delaware, a deep blue state, ranks 22, above several deep-red states, in regulatory freedom.

While the John Locke Foundation touts itself as non-partisan, its founding principles are largely based on conservative and Libertarian ideals of limited government. The group serves as a policy think tank going after wasteful government spending, education reform, over-taxing and a decline of individual freedom. John Locke was an English philosopher whose writing and ideas inspired Thomas Jefferson.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.