Opinion: How Utah has had the nation’s best economy for 15 straight years
Instead of cowering to mounting pressure from the liberal media and outside states, Utah remained determined to forgo mandates and unnecessary government overreach and instead focused on personal freedoms and Utahns’ ability to make sound decisions
In 2007, the University of Florida beat Ohio State in the NCAA football championship, the final “Harry Potter” book was published and Apple released the very first iPhone. 2007 was also the first year Utah was ranked the state with the best economic outlook in the Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.
Since then, Utah has consecutively been awarded the top ranking as the state continues to grow and improve its prosperity. This year is no different. It’s an honor to be ranked once again as the state with the best economic outlook.
In the past 15 years, Utah and our nation navigated difficult events, including the financial and housing crisis of 2008, numerous natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, Utah’s strategic planning, pioneering spirit and determination placed the state on a continued path of success. Utah buckled down during hard times, relying on forward-thinking reserve funds, and made preparations for future downturns during good economic periods.
After 15 years of being the highest-ranked state, Utah has never once taken its success for granted. Policymakers and business leaders continued to reach for new heights and resolved to never become complacent.
Smart economic outcomes drive decisions. State leaders use a combination of tried-and-true methods, along with innovative ideas to turn the dial on Utah’s economy. Recently put to the test, Utah’s economy withstood and even thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic as other states and nations experienced drastic downturns.
Instead of cowering to mounting pressure from the liberal media and outside states, Utah remained determined to forgo mandates and unnecessary government overreach and instead focused on personal freedoms and Utahns’ ability to make sound decisions. It is clear that this approach worked. Policymakers’ foresight saved lives and livelihoods, provided a road map for success and prevented Utah from the pitfalls others experienced.
While many states are struggling to recover from COVID-19, Utah is in an advantageous position. Because of its competitive economic outlook, the state was able to provide teachers with a bonus during the pandemic. The Legislature was also able to prioritize budget needs and reduce taxes by $193 million in 2022, the state’s second consecutive tax cut.
Throughout the past 15 years, the state has had a strong economic track record, but Utah is just getting started. Not only has Utah been ranked the state with the best economic outlook, but it is also the fastest-growing state in the nation, has the fastest growing GDP and historically low unemployment at 2%. Utah is just scratching the surface of what it can accomplish.
Utah’s major free-market policy accomplishments in recent years resulted in creating a flat personal income tax rate of less than 5% and providing pension reform that enhanced the economic security for workers and taxpayers. Additionally, Kansas and Nebraska have followed Utah’s “Truth in Taxation” model for property tax transparency and it has become a national model with the American Legislative Exchange Council.
It is no surprise other states are striving to claim the No. 1 spot as they attempt to emulate Utah’s policies and experience success. With Utah’s booming economy and endless opportunities, the Beehive State will, without a doubt, continue to grow at a rapid pace. Utah policymakers are taking the necessary steps to expand infrastructure and account for even more growth in the near future, as well as provide additional tax relief for hardworking Utahns.
The state has come a long way since 2007, but one thing has stayed the same — Utah’s determination and ability to rise to the top. And Utah has proved it over and over again — 15 times, to be exact.
J. Stuart Adams is president of the Utah Senate, and Jonathan Williams is chief economist and executive vice president of policy at the American Legislative Exchange Council.