By William Newell
Today, Oregon is at a crossroads. Oregonians must choose between our current unsustainable path and becoming a place where freedom and prosperity can grow. Sadly, according to the Mercatus Center’s Freedom in the 50 States report which looks at the last 12 years, freedom in Oregon has decreased since 2001; and a major effort will be needed to restore and enhance it.
The report divides freedom into three main components: fiscal, regulatory, and personal. Oregon ranked 28th in the nation in terms of overall freedom. We rank 23rd in fiscal, 30th in regulatory, and 19th in personal. In all three categories, Oregon has fallen since 2001; and since 2009, Oregon freedom has diminished by the largest amount of any state.
Oregon does worse in several major areas. We rank in the bottom third of states in categories of government spending, government debt burden, health insurance regulations, labor market regulations, occupational freedom, alcohol regulations, gambling limits, and travel restrictions.
Oregon ranked in the top third of states in marijuana, education freedom, asset forfeiture, campaign finance, cable/telecommunications, marriage, and civil liberties categories.
Our leaders need to address our growing fiscal and regulatory problems and restore freedom to everyday Oregonians. Instead of a “grand bargain,” Oregon needs a new vision.
William Newell is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. He is a graduate of Willamette University.