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FGA Unveils First ‘Freedom to Prosper’ Research

Naples, Fl. – Today, the Foundation for Government Accountability unveiled its first round of policy research focused on its new ‘Freedom to Prosper’ campaign, which focuses on promoting opportunity for individuals by reducing restrictive licensing requirements and regulatory burdens.

The study, authored by FGA’s Andrew Brown and Jared Meyer, focuses on Florida’s recent regulatory reforms. The findings build on existing evidence that having a job is the number one predictor of how likely someone is to live in poverty, indicating that work is the best path off government dependence. Unfortunately, job-killing regulations created by state agencies and local governments limit the ability for low-income individuals to find work or start their own businesses.

“President Reagan said that the best social program is a job, and the data clearly support his claim. Only 2 percent of people who work full-time live in poverty. Alternatively, nearly 1 in 3 adult Americans under the age of 65 who did not work over the past year are stuck in poverty. Enabling and promoting work needs to be the main priority for policymakers who are concerned about low-income families,” said Meyer.

The study found:

  • When Governor Rick Scott took office in January 2011, Florida was in a deep economic hole. Between 2007 and December 2010, the state lost over 900,000 jobs and saw its unemployment rate soar from5 percent to a peak of just over 11 percent.
  • At the beginning of Scott’s first term, Florida had nearly 21,000 individual rules and regulations that directly affected business. Scott launched Florida’s deregulation efforts by signing Executive Order 11-01, which he later reinforced with Executive Order 11-211.
  • Since 2011, the deregulation efforts that came from these executive orders have resulted in the repeal of over 4,700 individual rules and regulations – more than 20 percent of the regulations that affected businesses six years ago.
  • Since December 2011, Florida’s private-sector job growth has outpaced that of the rest of the United States.
  • Regulatory reform and welfare reform must go hand in hand. Even with Florida’s impressive private-sector job growth, the state’s increase in public welfare program participation tracked private-sector job growth. Once work requirements for food stamps went into effect at the beginning of 2016, participation in public welfare programs fell by 300,000 in just 10 months and private-sector job growth continued uninterrupted (210,000).

“This research confirms that ‘Freedom to Prosper’ will help those struggling most to make ends meet, those out of the job market for far too long, and those who have just given up. How? By restoring sanity to regulations through reforms that focus on simplification and consolidation, governors can deliver on their promises of job creation and opportunity promotion. Executive-level regulatory reform in Florida was a success and this is a path that other states can follow,” said project lead Tom Newell, senior fellow with FGA.

To read the study, visit:

The Foundation for Government Accountability is a nonprofit, multistate think tank that specializes in health care and welfare policy. To learn more, visit


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