Digesting Cato’s fiscal report card on governors and Perdue’s C grade

Last week, the Cato Institute released its biennial Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2012. There is a lot in this one, but it measures actions since 2010 and ranks governors based on whether they have increased or decreased taxation and spending. It also includes some consideration for whether a governor has proposed changes but failed to gain support from the legislature — particularly relevant for North Carolina.

Governor Bev Perdue (D) received a C grade, which placed her at 28th and equal with the Montana and Texas governors. The authors noted that she brought in substantial tax increases at the start of her term in 2009, just prior to the index period, and that more recently she proposed but failed to achieve an extension of an earlier sales tax increase. On a positive note, she has proposed cutting the corporate income tax rate from 6.9 to 4.9 percent, but that too has not come to fruition during her tenure.

Among some of the broader trends, the authors have identified a clearer distinction in policy priorities down party lines. In the latest release, the top five governors are all Republicans, and the bottom five are all Democrats. In the previous two reports, 2008 and 2010, a Democratic governor made the top five and a Republican governor made the bottom five. Further, in the 2010 report, on average, Democratic governors scored 47 out of the 100 and Republicans scored 55. In 2012, the gap has increased to 43 versus 57.

Fergus Hodgson

Director of fiscal policy studies at the John Locke Foundation, policy advisor with The Future of Freedom Foundation, and host of The Sta...

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