Rich States, Poor States

According to one source, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Vermont ranks 16th in terms of economic performance (measured by personal income growth per capita; absolute domestic migration; and, non-farm payroll employment) and 49th in terms of economic outlook (up from 50th in 2008). There are fifteen variables that comprise the outlook ranking, which focus largely on tax and fiscal policy. By contrast, Utah, Colorado and Arizona rank 1, 2, 3, respectively; Massachusetts was the highest ranking New England state at 26th.

ALEC is comprised of conservative legislators who share common beliefs in free market, limited government, federalism and individual liberty. So the more liberal among us may disagree with the assumptions behind these results. However, in the current economic crisis where strong debates are emerging around spending cuts, new tax revenue, and threats of gubernatorial veto, or where people still have their heads in the sand around all of the above, Laffer and his co-authors of this “Rich States, Poor States” economic competitiveness index provide a necessary perspective for policymakers, beginning with its Ten Principles of Effective Taxation. Bottom line: when one compares the top ten economic performing states against the bottom ten, those states that spend less and tax less enjoy a higher rate of in-migration and economic growth. 

The full report, executive summary and individual state highlights can be found at