TROY - The Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University is today releasing a study on "Improving Lives in Alabama: A Vision for Economic Freedom and Prosperity." The document has 12 chapters that cover topics that have an impact on the health of Alabama's economy and the well-being of its citizens.
"It lays out a vision for free markets and limited government in Alabama," said Dr. Daniel Sutter, Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics at Troy University and editor of the volume, "and how this could help lead to greater prosperity and I think more human happiness, and flourishing in our state."
Research findings and in-depth study topics covered in the study include tax and healthcare policy, labor and legal regulations, pension, education, and economic development policies. The study calls for both short and long-term policy goals to increase freedom and prosperity in Alabama.
The study shows constitutional constraints on government are necessary to allow the voluntary sector to flourish. Alabama's fiscal system already features constitutional constraints requiring a balanced budget, limiting income and property tax rates, and earmarking taxes to a specific purpose.
Competition is a major theme of the volume. Public education will improve if parents have choice among a diverse range of schooling options. Alabama's school districts could save more than $100 million annually by relying on competition between private businesses for contracts to provide transportation, maintenance, and other services. And stronger home rule could enable greater competition among local governments across the state.
"The policy recommendations put forward by the Johnson Center in this publication serves as a needed foundation for public discourse on how freer markets can drive economic growth and expand economic opportunities for all Alabamians," said Dr. Judson Edwards, Dean of the Sorrell College of Business.
This collaborative study involved seven contributors from the Johnson Center and five other contributors affiliated with other universities. The entire study can be accessed at Johnson Center's website.
"Improving Lives is also about the human element of economic freedom," said Dr. Dan Smith, a contributor to the volume and an economics professor in the Johnson Center. "The freedom to pursue a career of one's choosing is fundamental to happiness. For instance, Alabama licenses more than 140 professions, and each of these restrictions needlessly prevents Alabamians from pursuing their dreams – and increases the cost of service for consumers."