Gov. Dave Freudenthal has ranked near the bottom of the Cato Institute’s Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2008.
Freudenthal was among 13 governors to receive a D, and only Montana Gov. Brian Scheweitzer ranked lower on the D list. Three governors received As, 14 earned Bs, eight earned Cs and eight earned Fs.
The report card uses statistical data to grade the country’s governors on their taxing and spending records. Governors who have cut taxes and spending earning the highest marks and those who have increased taxes and spending the most receive the lowest. Cato has been grading the countries governors since 2003.
Freudenthal’s low score was a result of many different factors. The report states:
Governor Freudenthal got off to a bad start his first year by backing tax increases on cigarette consumers and property owners. Since then, he has proposed some modest tax breaks, including cutting the sales tax by half a percentage point. However, the governor could have done much more to reduce taxes because the state has enjoyed huge budget surpluses in recent years. Instead of tax cuts, Freudenthal has launched expensive program initiatives to disperse the overflowing funds in state coffers. Per capita spending has grown at an average rate of about 16 percent annually under Freudenthal, which is the highest growth rate of any governor in the study.
The governors of Nebraska and Utah won Bs. Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia was one of only three governors to receive an A, largely due to his initiatives relieving burdens on business.
On average, Republican governors fared slightly better in the report, but it found a disappointing lack of major spending reforms among governors of both parties in recent years. State tax policies have also been uninspiring. Most tax cuts pursued by the governors have been small and targeted breaks, not broad-based rate cuts that can foster economic growth.