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Studies find shortcomings in freedom and equality in Utah

Utah Capital Building
Utah Capital Building

The Cato Institute’s Freedom in the 50 States study looks at the extent to which states offer different levels of freedom, and Utah was ranked 20th. It’s a ranking study co-author Jason Sorens said policy makers could pay attention to.

“They can certainly get ideas for reforms to improve where a state stands on freedom and thereby improve its economy and its attractiveness to new residents,” Sorens said.

Utah did well in freedom when it comes to business regulations, firearms and education, but Sorens said Utah could improve in fiscal policy.

“Utah could reduce state debts and could start to ultimately reduce the tax burden a little bit,” Sorens said.

But perhaps an even larger area Utah could improve on, according to WalletHub, is women’s equality, where Utah was ranked last. Founding director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project Susan Madsen said this isn't a first for Utah.

“We have for many years hit not just on the WalletHub rankings of worst and best states for women's equality, but on other rankings as well,” Madsen said.

Utah’s ranking was hit hard by a large gender wage gap, and by cost disparities between men’s and women’s cost of health care. But Madsen said the area Utah could most improve on is women’s political empowerment.

“If you have men, only men or significantly more men than women like our state legislature,” Madsen said. “You continue not to get the best thinking.”

Madsen said making these improvements is vital to the success of Utah moving forward.

Emma Feuz is a senior at Utah State University majoring in broadcast journalism with minors in sociology and political science. She grew up in Evanston, Wyoming where, just like Utah State, the sagebrush also grows. Emma found her love of writing at an early age and slowly discovered her interest in all things audio and visual throughout her years in school. She is excited to put those passions to use at UPR. When school isn't taking up her time, Emma loves longboarding, cheering on the Denver Broncos, and cleaning the sink at Angies.