You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

EDITORIAL: Grading the governors

2012 GOP hopefuls demonstrate fiscal restraint

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

The ongoing economic crisis has been a test of leadership not only for the president and Congress, but also for the stewards of America's statehouses. Polls show the public holds the Obama administration in low regard for the tax and stimulus policies at the national level. According to a Cato Institute report released Thursday, however, a handful of governors has demonstrated a better way of managing budgets in tough times.

Because states cannot print their own money, general fund spending has dropped a total of $75 billion, or 11 percent, since 2008. Not surprisingly, some governors don't know how to reduce spending so have used tax increases to make ends meet. This year alone, there will be $31.4 billion in new taxes and fees imposed, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Cato gave "A" grades to the four most frugal chief executives who were able to resist the temptation to increase the tax bite on already hard-hit consumers. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana repealed $350 million in income-tax increases in 2008, while proposing to spend 17 percent less money in 2011 than 2008. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota vetoed tax increases and held the line on spending. Republican Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina took the highest honors for holding 2010 spending to 2003 levels while slicing taxes. Gov. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia stood out from his fellow Democrats by lowering tax rates and running frugal budgets.

By contrast, Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson of New York oversaw $1.7 billion in new sales, cigarette and business taxes in 2008, along with a $1.5 billion "mobility tax" on workers in the Big Apple. In 2009, the tax hit was $5 billion on income, utility bills, health insurance and wine. Cato gave "B" marks to rising GOP stars like Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who, though a fiscal conservative, "seems to focus more on balancing the state budget than shrinking the size of government." Texas Gov. Rick Perry received the same score because "he has not reduced the size of state government."

The Cato report only looked at governors who were in office in 2008 or 2009, leaving out Republican newcomers such as New Jersey's Chris Christie and Virginia's Robert F. McDonnell. A look at these governors' proposed 2011 budgets shows that Mr. Christie is going to be hard to beat in next year's ratings. The Garden State chief is proposing $987 million in tax relief at the personal and corporate level. Mr. McDonnell's liquor-store privatization plan will help scale back the size of state government, but more tax relief will be needed to offset the proposed $10 million increase in fees proposed for the Old Dominion in 2011.

Governorships frequently serve as a proving ground for presidential hopefuls. The good news is that any of these possible contenders for the 2012 Republican nod will be able to point to a record on taxes and spending far more impressive than that of President Obama.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts