The conservative Cato institute is out this morning with its biennial survey of the best and worst governors in the country when it comes to fiscal matters. If Gov. Rell’s performance was a report to be turned in, it would be marked everywhere with a red pen with a message to “resubmit”—she got an “F.”
The story from the Wall Street Journal:
It’s been a rough couple of years to be a Governor, but some have adjusted to austere times better than others. The Cato Institute today releases its 10th biennial survey of the best and worst Governors on fiscal issues, and we thought our readers might like to sort the stars from the slackers.
The Cato report card gives the lowest grades to Governors who proposed or enacted the biggest tax and spending increases, while Governors who cut or held the line on taxes and reduced spending go to the head of the class. Raising income and business taxes are the most harmful to a state economy—Exhibits A and B would be New York and California—so Governors who raised those taxes were heavily penalized. The nearby table shows the list of the Governors who earned grades of A and F.
THE BEST-Grade A
Bobby Jindal (R) – LA
Tim Pawlenty (R) – MN
Mark Sanford (R) – SC
Joe Manchin (D) – WV
THE WORST-Grade F
Bill Ritter (D) – CO
Jodi Rell (R) – CT
Pat Quinn (D) – IL
David Paterson (D) – NY
The biggest tax hikes have been in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey (under former Governor Jon Corzine), New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. These states have hurt their economic competitiveness by putting greater burdens on their employers and workers. One Governor who deserves particular credit is Republican Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who vetoed four separate income and other tax hikes that Democrats in the legislature sent him during the financial panic and recession.
One hopeful trend is that the Governors of three traditionally liberal Northeastern states cut their income tax rates—yes, even on the rich. They are Democrat John Baldacci of Maine and Republicans Don Carcieri of Rhode Island and Jim Douglas of Vermont. These New England states have been mugged by the economic reality that their high tax-and-spend regimes are chasing businesses and jobs to the low-tax likes of Florida, Texas, Tennessee or nearby New Hampshire.