ALEC Reagan Ranch Academy Brings Together Legislators and Great Ideas

From November 19th to 21st, ALEC hosted the Reagan Ranch Tax and Fiscal Policy Academy in sunny Santa Barbara, California. The three-day academy brought nearly 50 attendees representing 13 states to discuss tax and fiscal policy along with the ideals of President Ronald Reagan.

The academy opened with legislator introductions and a presentation on the ALEC-Laffer Rich States, Poor States annual report authored by ALEC Chief Economist and Executive Vice President of Policy Jonathan Williams. The data from Rich States, Poor States confirms President Reagan’s economic philosophy that current and future prosperity goes hand-in-hand with economic freedom.

At dinner, Dr. Lee Ohanian, UCLA Professor of Economics and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, spoke on another topic that was of utmost importance to President Reagan – the dangers of socialism.

The second day was filled with informative presentations from policy experts on topics ranging from the Electoral College to the looming state pension crisis. Jonathan Small, President of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and Trent England, Director of Save Our States, spoke on the role the Electoral College plays in protecting smaller states and promoting sound fiscal policy. Len Gilroy, Vice President of Government Reform and Senior Managing Director of the Reason Pension Integrity Project spoke in depth on how unfunded state pension liabilities ballooned over time and what states can do to guarantee a secure retirement for public retirees in the face of mounting liabilities. In fact, the academy’s host state of California has the largest unfunded pension liabilities in the country of $780 billion –  just under $20,000 per resident.

During lunch, radio host and Former Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones gave a presentation on the book How Money Walks by Travis Brown an examination of how tax and fiscal policies encourage income earners and job creators to move from high-tax to low-tax locales. For example, California, with some of the highest state taxes in the country, lost 800,543 residents from 2007-2017 to Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Washington.

The second day closed out with a trip to Rancho del Cielo, the former home of President Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan. The president’s home reflected the values established in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The academy concluded with several presentations. Mark Janus, Senior Fellow at the Liberty Justice Center, spoke about his fight for first amendment rights and worker freedom in his case Janus v. AFSCME. Through his efforts, Mark helped paved the way for greater recognition of public employees’ right to free association throughout the country. Then, Center for State Fiscal Reform Senior Director Lee Schalk moderated a panel discussion with Jonathan Williams, Jonathan Small and Kansas Senator Ty Masterson on lessons from state tax reform efforts, as well as dispelling several myths surrounding Kansas’ 2012 and 2013 tax cuts. Finally, Bob Williams, ALEC Senior Fellow and founder of State Budget Solutions, spoke on the ALEC State Budget Reform Toolkit and how states can make government more efficient, effective, and accountable.