New Wealth of States Book on Kindle

The sequel to the original groundbreaking exposé, Wealth of States, adds to the mounting pile of evidence of which policy choices lead to economic growth. Included is an even more magnified view of – not just state – but city-level taxes and their impact on prosperity. You’ll also find an analysis of how equity prices respond to state tax policies – an often overlooked yet essential tool for properly managing equity portfolios.
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Recent News

The story of Oklahoma is really the story of Wealth of States

  Jonathan Small with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs talks to Travis Brown at the American Legislative Exchange Council on why the story of Oklahoma is really the story of Wealth of States. When you go back to 2000, Oklahoma was a poor state with structures in the tax code that weren’t condusive to growth. But in a bi-partisan effort, Oklahoma started to implement right-to-work, made income tax cuts down to 5%, and got rid of the death tax. Oklahoma continues to reward work thanks to Jonathan and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs working for the betterment of Oklahoma citizens to implement free-market principles in rural areas and urban areas, like Tulsa and Oklahoma City....

Rep. Jordan Ulery is keeping N.H.’s business climate open for business

Travis Brown talks to Rep. Jordan Ulery at the 2015 ALEC Conference in San Diego. Leery is an 11 year member of ALEC where he comes to learn about fiscal policy from leaders that he can take back to the people of NH. At present, the Granite State’s status as a no-income-tax and no-sales-tax state help it land squarely on the Tax Foundation’s top-ten list of states with the best business climate. It routinely gains wealth and population, particularly from its high-tax neighbors (between 1992 and 2011, the state of Massachusetts alone contributed $3.23 billion in net adjusted gross income to the New Hampshire economy). What’s more, the eyes of the nation will soon be on New Hampshire, given the state’s first-in-the-nation status for the presidential primaries. Undoubtedly, the 2016 presidential contenders will visit New Hampshire multiple times, discussion issues related to tax reform and economic growth. Now is the perfect opportunity for New Hampshire to showcase itself as the pro-growth jewel of New England, with policies that would entice businesses large and small. Otherwise, successful companies and ambitious startups will be looking around for a place where they can truly “live...

The Importance of Rich States, Poor States

  “The big story this year is the bipartisan embrace of state tax cuts,” said Jonathan Williams, Vice President of the ALEC Center for State Fiscal Reform and co-author of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. “States are increasingly realizing the need to become more competitive through fiscal responsibility and free market economic reforms. We anticipate 2015 will be a record year for pro-growth tax reform.” Rich States, Poor States examines the latest trends in state economic growth. The data ranks the 2015 economic outlook of states using 15 equally weighted policy variables, including various tax rates, regulatory burdens and labor policies. The eighth edition examines trends over the last few decades that have helped or hurt states’ economies. Used by state lawmakers across America since 2008, Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, is authored by economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, Heritage Foundation Chief Economist Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams, Vice President of the American Legislative Exchange Council Center for State Fiscal Reform. To download a copy of Rich States, Poor States and to see individual state data, visit www.alec.org/rsps....

Live free or . . . move to another state?

  Travis Brown talks to Rep. Kenneth Weyler (NH) at the 2015 ALEC Conference in San Diego. Weyler is a 20 year member of ALEC where he comes to learn about fiscal policy from leaders like Jonathan Williams with Rich States, Poor States that he can take back to the people of NH. At present, the Granite State’s status as a no-income-tax and no-sales-tax state help it land squarely on the Tax Foundation’s top-ten list of states with the best business climate. It routinely gains wealth and population, particularly from its high-tax neighbors (between 1992 and 2011, the state of Massachusetts alone contributed $3.23 billion in net adjusted gross income to the New Hampshire economy). What’s more, the eyes of the nation will soon be on New Hampshire, given the state’s first-in-the-nation status for the presidential primaries. Undoubtedly, the 2016 presidential contenders will visit New Hampshire multiple times, discussion issues related to tax reform and economic growth. Now is the perfect opportunity for New Hampshire to showcase itself as the pro-growth jewel of New England, with policies that would entice businesses large and small. Otherwise, successful companies and ambitious startups will be looking around for a place where they can truly “live...

What’s Right with Kansas Gov. Brownback’s Tax Cuts

Dave Trabert (Kansas Policy Institute) talks with Travis Brown at the 2015 ALEC Conference in San Diego about what is really going on with the Kansas tax cuts. The stories that most legislators and media hear out of Kansas are simply not true. Self-employments taxes were once as high as 6% and are now ZERO. This means that hundreds of thousand small business owners in the state can now focus on their payroll instead of paying the government more money in taxes. People also try and say that Kansas is trailing the national average in job growth as evidence that the tax plan failed. When in fact, because Kansas was trailing the national average was why taxes were reduced in the first place. Cuts were necessary to reduce decades of stagnation to in fact stimulate job growth. From 1998-2012 private sector jobs only grew at 2% in Kansas, while other states grew at 3.6%. Now in the last two years, even though Kansas is still trailing the national average, they are not digging themselves out of a hole and are in a better place to compete with neighboring states. Evidence from Wealth of States is actually used the Kansas Policy Institute to explain that increasing taxes does not work. States the tax income spend 49% more per resident on services than states that don’t, yet have little to show for it. You cannot spend your way to prosperity. And that’s why we need people like Trabert attending ALEC and leading the pack in explain what the media gets...

Due To Mind-Boggling System, New York City Hires “Taxpayer Advocate”

When a city’s tax situation is so complex and burdensome that it has to hire a “taxpayer advocate,” that may be a sign of a problem. Such is the scenario in New York City, where Diana Leyden recently took the helm of an office designed to help taxpayers navigate the convoluted system. New York City Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha explained the position (which he created) this way: “We want to collect the right amount of tax and not a dollar more or a dollar less . . . . If you are going to have your hand in people’s pockets, do it with a smile.” Of course, one could easily make the argument that rather than hiring a $175,000-a-year “taxpayer advocate” to guide citizens through a mind-boggling system, the city could attempt to reform the system itself. New York City is one of the few cities in the nation that levies a separate city income tax on top of the state income tax. If you live in the Big Apple AAPL +0.85%, you pay for the privilege. City income tax rates range from 2.907 percent to 3.648 percent – and that’s on top of a state income tax with a top marginal rate of 8.82 percent. It’s little wonder that The Tax Foundation ranks New York as the second-worst state in the nation when it comes to individual income-tax burden. Even more complex than income tax is the city property tax, which is projected to bring in around $22.3 billion this year. That’s about 40 percent of the total $56.9 billion in city-based tax revenue, and that number is only likely to grow in coming years;...

Ohio is a state trying to turn its economy around.

  Rep. Wes Retherford (OH) talks with Travis Brown at the 2015 ALEC Conference in San Diego about trying to change Ohio’s tax policy to invest in workforce development. When you reward people to work with lower tax rates, you see the results. When Retherford was asked why he was attending ALEC this year he said, “it’s all about jobs and workforce development.” Bringing jobs and businesses back to Ohio has been no small feat. During Gov. Strickland’s tenure, over 400,000 jobs were lost. Thankfully Gov. Kasich started looking at unemployment benefits, just like Gov. McCrory did in North Carolina. Accepting large sums of money from the federal government often carries negative consequences. In 2009, North Carolina began borrowing federal money in order to extend unemployment insurance benefits. The amount owed by the Tar Heel State piled higher and higher – until North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory decided to take some proactive, bold steps regarding both debt and taxation. Now, those steps are yielding impressive and encouraging results. This week Gov. McCrory announced that his state’s $2.75 billion debt to the national government has been paid off (and, notably, $2.5 billion of that daunting sum was paid off during Gov. McCrory’s time as governor). By having job training programs, cutting personal income taxes rate in addition to looking at unemployment benefits, Retherford and Gov. Kasich are getting Ohioans back to...