Gov. Kemp ranks near top in economic freedom report on U.S. governors

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ranked second among U.S. governors in a new conservative think tank report for his policies regarding economic freedom.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ranked second among U.S. governors in a new conservative think tank report for his policies regarding economic freedom.

The American Legislative Exchange Council released its first-ever governors’ rankings in the Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom: Grading America’s 50 Governors. The report ranked America’s 50 governors based on policy performance and executive leadership before and after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gov. Kemp’s leadership prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed Georgia to emerge from the crisis better prepared than nearly any other state,” the report read.

Laffer-ALEC ranked Kemp sixth for his efforts in making Georgia “well-prepared” for unforeseen economic shocks. Georgia’s budget shortfall was one of the lowest of any state during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report read.

“[It is] due in large part to the governor’s leadership in re-opening the economy, and well-managed state savings allowed Georgia to avoid more painful sending cuts,” the report said.

The report was created by a team of economists and researchers, who also applauded Kemp for limiting federal bailout of the state. 

Kemp announced plans to reopen businesses, shuttered to limit the spread of the coronavirus, on April 20 – before most other states. He was criticized by many, including President Donald Trump, for the decision.

“From the start of the pandemic, the fight with COVID-19 has been a battle on two fronts: protecting lives but also livelihoods,” Kemp told The Center Square. “Thanks to our measured approach, we’ve been able to allow business owners to reopen safely, avoid draconian budget cuts, preserve the state’s rainy day fund, and maintain our AAA bond rating."

Each governor was awarded an overall rank, a results rank and a policy rank.

Kemp also ranked second out of 50 for state economic results. His decision-making earned him a seventh-place policy ranking. Kemp received high marks for the state’s union and wage laws and welfare spending per capita. Georgia spends $1,164 per capita on public welfare programs, the second-lowest in the country, according to the Urban Institute.

"We’re honored to receive this ranking from ALEC, but let me be clear: we are not resting on our laurels," Kemp said. "We are still facing down a once-in-a-century global pandemic, and we will continue to work with our partners in the private sector and local communities to encourage best practices, remain vigilant and stay hard at work to protect people and their paychecks."

The other top governors in the report were Greg Abbott of Texas (first) and Kristi Noem of South Dakota (third). Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island was ranked the worst governor, followed by Mike Dunleavy of Alaska and Phil Murphy of New Jersey.