#40 Connecticut

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The overall freedom ranking is a combination of personal and economic freedoms.

From 2009

Connecticut State Overview

State Facts

Net Migration Rate (?) -2.9 % 
Personal Income Growth (?) 0.82 %
How does the freedom ranking relate to these?


Connecticut is a high-income, urbanized, left-of-center state with a remnant streak of Yankee fiscal conservatism. It has not gone as far as states like New York, California, New Jersey, and Hawaii in restricting the freedoms of its citizens.

Connecticut scores about average on most fiscal policies, except that its tax burden of 10.3 percent is above the national average of 9.5 percent, even as government consumption plus subsidies makes up just 8.8 percent of personal income, nearly a standard deviation and a half lower than the national average. As a wealthy state, its state and local governments receive less than most from the federal government. Property and individual income taxes are especially high.

Land-use freedom is low, with eminent domain abuse nearly unchecked and exclusionary local zoning laws in rich areas.1 Connecticut’s labor laws score poorly, with no right-to-work law, a high minimum wage, strict workers’ compensation regulations, and a law banning employers from charging smokers more for their health insurance. Health insurance freedom is quite low, with one of the highest benefit mandate costs in the entire nation (at 57.1 percent of a basic premium). Occupational licensing is extensive, covering about a standard deviation larger share of the workforce than the national average.

Unsurprisingly, the state scores poorly on gun rights, tobacco freedom, and political speech. The effective cost of an initial concealed-carry permit is $194, and while the statutes and state constitution guarantee a right to bear arms, a complicated two-tier permitting system effectively allows local governments to deny the right to carry a handgun altogether. A separate permit (with a safety course) is required to purchase a handgun. At $3 a pack (since raised to $3.40), tobacco taxes are among the very highest in the country, and smoking bans are extensive. On the positive side, Connecticut is one of the few states to have enacted civil unions legislatively (they were later judicially overturned in favor of same-sex marriage), and it has low victimless crimes arrest rates (though a high incarceration rate) and takes a liberal approach toward tribal gaming.

Policy Recommendations

  • Trim taxes, particularly on motor vehicles, real property, tobacco, and individual income.
  • Enact statewide restrictions on eminent domain and the ability of local communities to impose building limits, minimum lot sizes, and other mechanisms of racial and income exclusion.
  • Repeal archaic and useless laws and regulations, such as alcohol blue laws, bicycle helmet mandates, and the ban on audiorecording public officials, as well as strict limits on what individuals and grassroots political action committees may contribute to parties and candidates. In a world in which independent campaign expenditures are unregulated, contribution limits to candidates and parties have perverse consequences by any standard.
1. Jason Reece et al., People, Place, and Opportunity: Mapping Communities of Opportunity in Connecticut (Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, 2009), http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/connecticut-op-mapping-temporary.
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