New York ranks at the bottom of an annual study of all 50 states when it comes to individual freedom, with its high tax burden on its citizens as the number one reason.

The study, done by the Cato Institute, a Libertarian “think tank” founded in 1974, analyzes several factors in its survey, including how high a state’s tax rates are, how that affects people, how many regulations are in force that affect businesses, and how free people are to live their lives.

New York was ranked dead last among all states, a ranking it has held for several years. Some of the categories where New York’s rating was at or near the bottom are:

  1. State Taxation. New York ranks #45 in the tax burden it puts on people and businesses.
  2. Government consumption, which is how much the New York state government spends on its own operations and employees, came in at #47 of 50.
  3. Local taxation. The survey puts New York dead last of the 50 states. High property and other taxes are main parts of this.
  4. State government employment. New York ranks 31st for how many people it employs to run the state government and its services, but when one looks at #2 above, the survey says the state pays its people a lot more than other states.
  5. New York is also dead last when it comes to its state debt which includes state and local debt. A heavy government debt load can mean the state must pay more to pay off state bonds, which can cause even more tax increases.
  6. New York ranks #48 out of 50 in “regulatory freedom”. This includes property rights, health insurance, and the labor market.
  7. New York, according to the survey, used “eminent domain” to grab land more than most states. And the survey says it puts more regulations on the use of land than all but five other states.
  8. New York is 49th out of 50 when it comes to how it treats its people when they go to work. The category cites issues with right-to-work laws, making it harder than normal to get disability insurance, and a worker’s compensation program that the survey says does not work like it should.
  9. One category where New York is in the top-third of states is “Occupational Freedom”. That includes regulations governing licensing, education, and experience requirements.
  10. New York is #9 in “Incarceration and Arrests”. That category includes incarceration rates, non-drug crime arrests, and drug enforcement.
  11. New York is #42 in “gun rights”.
  12. Finally, New York is #16 in “Cannabis freedom”. That category includes medical and other marijuana polices.

You can read the entire Cato Institute study here: Freedom in the 50 States 2023: New York Cannabis & Salvia Freedom | Cato Institute