Utah has finished first again in a ranking of states’ overall economic outlook — for the 10th consecutive year.

Utah also finished fourth — behind Texas, North Dakota and Washington — for economic performance in the recent American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) report, titled “Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.”

In announcing the rankings, the council described Utah as “a free market powerhouse.”

“For an unprecedented 10 years, since the very founding of ‘Rich States, Poor States,’ Utah has reigned as No. 1 in terms of economic outlook,” said Jonathan Williams, ALEC chief economist and vice president of the ALEC Center for State Fiscal Reform. “This is largely due to the state’s many responsible fiscal policies, including an efficient and lean state government, a low overall tax burden and the state’s right-to-work status.

“In addition, the public sector pension reforms of 2010 have undoubtedly benefited Utah in the rankings. Congratulations to the Utah legislators who consistently show their dedication to protecting hard-earned taxpayer dollars and promoting a strong state economy.”

Among the study’s ranking criteria are top marginal personal income tax rate, top marginal corporate income tax rate, personal income tax progressivity, property tax burden, sales tax burden, “remaining” tax burden, recently legislated tax changes, debt service as a share of tax revenue, the number of public employees per 10,000 population, a state liability system survey, state minimum wage, average worker compensation costs, tax expenditure limits, whether it is a right-to-work state and whether an estate/inheritance tax is levied.

Among states that improved their economic outlook during the past year are Delaware, up seven spots to No. 37, and West Virginia, up six spots to No. 31. Oklahoma saw its ranking fall six spots to 16th. Wisconsin, Mississippi and Alaska all fell five places.

The report is available at www.richstatespoorstates.org.

ALEC says state lawmakers have relied upon the annual report as a guide for measuring the economic competitiveness of their states since 2008. The publication is authored by Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, a member of Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board; Stephen Moore, distinguished visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation; and Williams.

ALEC is a nonprofit association of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism. Nearly one quarter of all state legislators are members of ALEC and represent more than 60 million Americans. ALEC member companies range from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

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