Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Pennsylvania Fiscal …

Analysis

The Keystone State is freer than all its neighbors, but it is a little below the national average, especially on economic policy.

Pennsylvanias tax burden is about average, but the state is a bit more fiscally decentralized than average, with local governments making up a larger share of the total tax take. The tax burden has declined slightly since 2000. Pennsylvanians have ample choice of local government, with more than 4.9 effective competing jurisdictions per 100 square miles. State and local debt and subsidies are higher than average, but public employment is much lower than average (10 percent of the private workforce).

Pennsylvania has drifted down on regulatory policy over time. It does reasonably well on land-use freedom, especially for a northeastern state, a fact that economist William Fischel attributes to the Pennsylvania Supreme Courts willingness to strike down minimum lot sizes and other zoning regulations that have exclusionary intent.129 Pennsylvania is not as bad as most other northeastern states on labor-market regulation, but it lacks a right-to-work law. By most measures, occupational licensing is not very extensive in Pennsylvania, but there was a big jump upward in 200910. Nurses enjoy little practice freedom. Insurance freedom is extremely low, with prior approval of rates and forms and rating classification prohibitions. The civil liability system is muchworse than the national average. The state has partisan judicial elections and has made none of the tort reforms we track.

Pennsylvanias criminal justice policy has worsened over time, at least as measured by crime-adjusted incarceration rates. Nonviolent victimless crime arrests are down since 2006, however. Civil asset forfeiture is mostly unreformed. Pennsylvania has lagged other center-left states in implementing medical cannabis and same-sex marriage, although the latter was imposed by judicial ruling in 2014. Gun rights are much better respected than in other progressive states, with carry licenses affordable and not terribly restricted, all Class III weapons legal, and a right to defend oneself in public, legally recognized in 200910. Since legalizing casinos in 20078, Pennsylvania has risen to become one of the best states in the country for gambling liberty. On the other hand, Pennsylvania is one of the worst states for alcohol freedom. A notoriously inefficient state bureaucracy monopolizes wine and spirits. Wine markups are especially high, direct wine shipments are banned, and even beer is prohibited in grocery stores. On education, Pennsylvania has a long-standing, liberal tax credit scholarship program, but private schools and homeschools are tightly regulated. Smoking bans have gone far but are not total.

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Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Pennsylvania Fiscal ...

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