In the “Freedom in the 50 States 2023” report by the Cato Institute, New Mexico finds itself ranked 35th, indicating its position as one of the less free states in the country. The comprehensive evaluation conducted by the libertarian think tank scrutinized policies affecting economic and social freedoms across all 50 states.
While New Mexico secured favorable marks for personal freedom, its economic performance was subpar, reflected in its overall score of 0.04. The report noted that the state has historically possessed more personal freedom than economic freedom, with recent improvements in fiscal policy. Despite moving up to 39th place on fiscal policy, up from a prolonged stint at 48th, and achieving a 36th-place rank on regulatory policy, its 41st-best score on economic freedom weighed down its overall standing.
New Mexico faced criticism for government consumption (48th), government employment (48th), and labor market freedom (44th), among other categories. The report highlighted that the state’s overall tax burden, although below the national average, did not significantly contribute to government choice due to limited competing jurisdictions.
Despite its economic challenges, New Mexico garnered commendations for marriage freedom (No. 1), asset forfeiture (No. 1), and cannabis policies (No. 8). The state also boasted an above-average ranking for incarceration (13th), with low victimless crime arrests and favorable asset forfeiture laws.
However, areas for improvement were identified, with recommendations to enhance school choice and liberalize smoking laws to boost the personal freedom score. The report acknowledged New Mexico’s strong stance on religious freedom and equal rights but criticized weaknesses in tobacco and educational freedoms.
The Cato Institute’s report crowned New Hampshire as the freest state, followed by Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, and Arizona. Conversely, the least free states were identified as New York, Hawaii, California, New Jersey, and Oregon.
Read the report here.