Governors & Spending: The Numbers

 

Uniquely for presidential candidates, governors have a fairly directly comparable fiscal record. Going through the data, I was surprised by a few things and wondered if the Ricochetti could explain some matters. I include the top line table here, but you can find the year by year data at usgovernmentspending.com. The numbers are in nominal dollars and cap out at 2015, the last completed year. If anyone wants to explore the (sadly, very ugly) sheet I made this from, I’d really appreciate any error corrections; PM me and I’ll email it to you.

 Budgets Party First Ran (from 2004) Governor State Spending Growth
1  1990-1993 D->R 2012 Roemer Lousiana 9.33%
2  2004-2007  R 2008 Romney Mass. 8.22%
3  2006-2010  R 2012 Huntsman Utah 8.17%
4 2000-2007  R 2016 Bush Florida 7.97%
5  1995-2003  R 2012 Johnson New Mexico 7.29%
6  1998-2002  R 2008 Gilmore Virginia 7.26%
7  2003-2011  D 2008 Richardson New Mexico 7.26%
8  1987-2001  R 2008 Thompson Wisconsin 7.21%
9  1992-2003  D 2004 Dean Vermont 6.54%
10  1997-2007  R 2008 Huckabee Arkansas 6.41%
11  1999-2007  D 2008 Vilsack Iowa 5.66%
12  2001-2016  R 2012 Perry Texas 5.65%
13  1995-2006  R 2016 Pataki New York 5.11%
14  1995-2001  R 2004 Bush Texas 4.79%
15  2003-2011  R 2012 Pawlenty Minnesota 4.49%
16  2007-2015  D 2016 O’Malley Maryland 2.08%
17  2011-?  R 2016 Kasich Ohio 0.18%
18  2010-2018  R 2016 Christie New Jersey 0.01%
19  2011-?  R 2016 Walker Wisconsin -0.49%
20  2008-2016  R 2016 Jindal Louisiana -0.64%
21  2011-2015  I->D 2016 Chafee Rhode Island -1.38%

Firstly, I was wrong about Rick Perry. When he ran last year, I criticized him for running on a two-note platform of being a wall-builder and a budget-cutter. Don’t get me wrong: I like both walls and budget cuts, but Perry made no apologies for being the most important wall opponent (Gary Johnson made a big deal about the border governors knowing about this sort of thing, awkwardly, since no other border state governor, including his own state, shared his views) and his spending before the 2012 primary was terrible.

Well, apparently Perry turned a new leaf, going from 7.3 percent annual growth in his first 10 years to 1.3 percent in his next three, cutting budgets in real terms; I apologize to any Texans I mistakenly offended. I was also wrong about Kasich; I was distracted by his making bad headline claims (Medicaid, primarily, but also supporting funding for other stuff) and failed to appreciate the efforts he’s made at cutting spending. The same is true for Christie; I’d known they were decent on that stuff, but had not appreciated how good. That doesn’t make me like either of them; they both appear to be poor team players with severe personality shortcomings that make them undesirable as leadership figures. Kasich adds to that by appearing to be far less smart than his peers. Still, as with Chafee, I feel I should recognize the strengths in politicians I don’t generally rate highly, and I hadn’t.

Secondly, these tables and related charts are terribly inaccurate for the two executives I know best; Bush 41 and Romney both suffered from their successors having a friendly legislature and packing a ton of spending into the end of the financial year the election falls under. These amendments to the budget fall under the same financial year, so I believe Jon Gabriel’s fantastic charts attributes much of the Stimulus to Bush, just as this chart attributes Patrick’s amendments to the FY2007 budget to Romney’s FY2007 budget. Romney also suffers because his emergency cuts at the start of his term are not only not attributed to him when you count by budget years, they count against him by reducing his baseline. He ought to be in the best quartile, ahead of everyone before this year; instead he appears awful and I don’t know of a way to fix this objectively. Does anyone know if this sort of thing occurred with any other candidates? I know that it didn’t with Johnson or Jeb Bush, but I’m not sure elsewhere.

Thirdly, does anyone know what happened in 2004 that sent Florida’s budget up by 25 percent in a single year? Bush was generally decent, but those twelve months seem to have seen him go full Sanders. Likewise, does anyone know why the spending increases seem to trend downwards over the past few cycles? All the best guys are from 2016, and the worse trend earlier. Inflation is responsible for a portion of the difference, but not much (Roemer is hit a little harder than most but, again, not enough to make that kind of a difference).

There are 33 comments.

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  1. SkipSul Moderator

    James Of England: I was also wrong about Kasich; I was distracted by his making bad headline claims (Medicaid, primarily, but also supporting funding for other stuff) and failed to appreciate the efforts he’s made at cutting spending.

    To put Kasich further in perspective, the two prior governors (Taft 1999-2007 and Strickland 2007-2011), kept raising spending and taxes (especially Taft – a nominal Republican). Taft at least left Ohio with a surplus (albeit a declining one), while Strickland inherited the 2008 crash and then burned through reserves to leave Ohio in fiscal hole. Kasich has significantly cut taxes and rolled back regulations here, and Ohio is now running a surplus again.

    • #1
    • May 19, 2016, at 8:54 PM PDT
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  2. BrentB67 Inactive

    James, just a guess, but the ones with longer histories, if I am reading your dataset correctly, governed during the 2008-09 recession.

    Perhaps there was increased state spending on support program similar to what happened at the federal level. Additionally, some funds from the stimulus were probably spent through states and that may be included as well, but I’ve no reference to share in support of that idea.

    • #2
    • May 20, 2016, at 4:29 AM PDT
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  3. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    Over all, I would say this does look good for Republican governors–spending seems to be the mother’s milk at every level of government. Sad really.

    On Romney, I would guess RomneyCare had a lot to do with his high number. Bill Richardson, New Mexico governor, upped spending 7.25%–having lived there for a bit, that is huge. Pataki most likely had a liberal, democrat legislator and could pull the reins back to only slow spending.

    It looks as though the RINO governors did better than the principled conservatives. That said, governors and–and presidents–have to deal the bad debt, out of control programs and spending of their predecessor–which is why they got elected. Worst of all, the financial Time-Bombs, like subprime home loans, that explode on Republicans watches.

    Good work James.

    • #3
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:46 AM PDT
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  4. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    JimGoneWild:Over all, I would say this does look good for Republican governors–spending seems to be the mother’s milk at every level of government. Sad really.

    I should maybe have been clearer that these are in nominal sums. The more recent governors have been cutting spending pretty sharply when you look at the numbers in terms of real dollars or as a percentage of GDP. It’s not just those running for the Presidency; Susanna Martinez is a good example of how much better our governors are today than they used to be.

    On Romney, I would guess RomneyCare had a lot to do with his high number.

    USGovernmentspending.com is a fantastic site; you can break out the healthcare costs. They do go up in 2007 (again partly due to changes made after Romney left office), but the increase is less than a quarter of the increase that year. Most of Patrick’s increased spending was on other stuff, and Romneycare didn’t make all that much difference to the state funding; Massachusetts is a rich state that already had the great bulk of its citizens covered and had more generous government provision for the uninsured, making the polive a lot cheaper there than it was in other places.

    Bill Richardson, New Mexico governor, upped spending 7.25%–having lived there for a bit, that is huge.

    It’s huge, but still smaller than the Libertarian Party’s nominee.

    Pataki most likely had a liberal, democrat legislator and could pull the reins back to only slow spending.

    I agree with this, although I don’t think that his rate of spending was terrible; 9/11 was an expensive thing for New York and despite that he kept pretty close to the average.

    It looks as though the RINO governors did better than the principled conservatives. That said, governors and–and presidents–have to deal the bad debt, out of control programs and spending of their predecessor–which is why they got elected. Worst of all, the financial Time-Bombs, like subprime home loans, that explode on Republicans watches.

    Good work James.

    Thank you.

    • #4
    • May 20, 2016, at 10:35 AM PDT
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  5. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    BrentB67:James, just a guess, but the ones with longer histories, if I am reading your dataset correctly, governed during the 2008-09 recession.

    Perhaps there was increased state spending on support program similar to what happened at the federal level. Additionally, some funds from the stimulus were probably spent through states and that may be included as well, but I’ve no reference to share in support of that idea

    The guys who governed in 2008 and 2009 were Richardson, Huntsman, Jindal, Pawlenty, and O’Malley, and they do get some of the stimulus money included in their totals; being in office for the 2012 budget seems to have been helpful, as state spending went down nationally as a result, I think, of the stimulus being withdrawn (the 2012 budgets were the first ones written after Republicans took the House).

    Having the stimulus added and then withdrawn doesn’t seem to have done Jindal, O’Malley, or Pawlenty any harm, though, and Richardson’s spending increases at a fairly steady rate throughout his time in office. I was slightly surprised at the small size of the impact of the stimulus, but I guess most of it was spent on a Federal level and much of the rest acted as it was meant to in replacing State revenue.

    It probably helps Kasich and Walker, both of whom got the “benefit” of the withdrawal without the “cost” of the addition, but it’s the sort of thing that moves them from “massive reductions in real terms” to “significant reductions in real terms”.

    • #5
    • May 20, 2016, at 10:48 AM PDT
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  6. EJHill Podcaster

    And the overall rate of inflation during that period? $1 in 2004 needs $1.27 in 2016.

    • #6
    • May 20, 2016, at 12:53 PM PDT
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  7. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    For a fair comparison, I think you need to adjust for both inflation and population growth.

    Also, it is not clear to me whether your spending growth figure is the total spending growth for the reported period, or the annual average growth.

    The number that I’d like to see is: average annual increase (or decrease) in inflation-adjusted, per capita spending.

    As an example: You report Perry’s record in Texas as 5.65% spending growth between 2001 and 2015. The population of Texas increased about 29% during that period (21.3 million to 27.5 million).

    If what you mean is that nominal Texas state spending increased by a total of 5.65% between 2001 and 2015 — without inflation adjustment, and with 29% population growth — then this looks like a fantastic record for Perry.

    • #7
    • May 20, 2016, at 1:26 PM PDT
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  8. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    Arizona Patriot:For a fair comparison, I think you need to adjust for both inflation and population growth.

    I think that both metrics have value. If you want my spreadsheet to generate such a chart, I’d be very keen to see the results.

    Also, it is not clear to me whether your spending growth figure is the total spending growth for the reported period, or the annual average growth.

    Annual average; those figures would be very low indeed for the longer serving guys.

    The number that I’d like to see is: average annual increase (or decrease) in inflation-adjusted, per capita spending.

    As an example: You report Perry’s record in Texas as 5.65% spending growth between 2001 and 2015. The population of Texas increased about 29% during that period (21.3 million to 27.5 million).

    If what you mean is that nominal Texas state spending increased by a total of 5.65% between 2001 and 2015 — without inflation adjustment, and with 29% population growth — then this looks like a fantastic record for Perry.

    As I said in the OP, I think Perry been very impressive since 2012. He was pretty lousy before then.

    • #8
    • May 20, 2016, at 1:44 PM PDT
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  9. jeannebodine Member

    Any of them have fully funded pensions (or even a significant portion thereof) for state workers? What about enacting pension and benefit reforms? Just take a look at New Jersey’s real balance sheet and get back to me on Christie’s fiscal cred. And, no, I realize he didn’t get New Jersey into this position, but what did he do to improve the situation? I live in Pennsylvania and until Bozo Wolf, we used to ‘balance the budget’ yearly as required by most State constitutions, but the real story is mind-blowingly ugly and untenable.

    • #9
    • May 20, 2016, at 2:33 PM PDT
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  10. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    jeannebodine:Any of them have fully funded pensions (or even a significant portion thereof) for state workers? What about enacting pension and benefit reforms? Just take a look at New Jersey’s real balance sheet and get back to me on Christie’s fiscal cred. And, no, I realize he didn’t get New Jersey into this position, but what did he do to improve the situation? I live in Pennsylvania and until Bozo Wolf, we used to ‘balance the budget’ yearly as required by most State constitutions, but the real story is mind-blowingly ugly and untenable.

    I agree that Christie has used a lot of gimmicks, one off tricks, and such. I also agree that his non-payment of pension funds was borderline criminal, and that a lot of states are desperately in need of civil service reform, one of the oldest and most underrated Republican strengths. That’s part of why I’m not fond of him. Similarly, Kasich’s Medicaid expansion and other urban government programs could be more helpful, and his failure to implement his public sector union reforms was one of the greatest defeats for conservatism since we took the House.

    I was impressed because I knew about the dark side, and hadn’t known that there was this positive aspect to their records, that Christie used gimmicks and such but had gotten a pretty impressive return on them. If you’re concerned that I’m going to be stumping for Chafee, you needn’t worry, but just as I think that we should hear bad things about people we like (eg. Reagan and the Brady Bill), I think that we should celebrate good things in those we understand to be possessed of impaired judgment.

    If you mean that you think that the nation as a whole is still in trouble, I agree, but I think there are a lot of governors who are taking serious steps to alter the trajectory; Walker stands out, but Martinez, Pence, Snyder, Hayley, Brownback, and others are doing wonderful things.

    • #10
    • May 20, 2016, at 4:00 PM PDT
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  11. Brian Clendinen Member

    You need to look at per capita spending increases. A big reason Texas and Florida had such a large increase is they were growing so fast. I ran this 4 years ago for a few candidates. Perry had a pretty large growth per capita but even after the growth Texas still was ranked 50th in spending per capita. It is just under Perry Texas was a lot closer to the 49th state than before him. Also more and more federal laws are dictating how states have to spend their money but that is to hard to calculate.

    It also does not look at headcount. For example Jeb in that time period might of spent more but actual headcount working for the state of Florida including those working for third party sub-contractors actually decreased under his leadership. So it is not like the headcount was reduced by just outsourcing.

    • #11
    • May 20, 2016, at 4:44 PM PDT
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  12. Eric Hines Inactive

    How do these spending growth numbers compare with the respective State GDPs over the same period? How do they compare with State deficits and debt growth over the same period?

    And I recommend you normalize them by per capita numbers, as Mr Clendinen suggested.

    Eric Hines

    • #12
    • May 20, 2016, at 4:53 PM PDT
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  13. jeannebodine Member

    I’m just cynical about state spending because when a state’s constitution mandates a balanced budget, miraculously it almost always does, on paper, and there is much crowing and rejoicing throughout the land by the politicos in power. But try to increase state employees’ contributions to their health insurance by $1.50 a month or make any changes to pensions for new employees and you’d think Armageddon was upon us.

    The unions run PA no matter who is governor and until that changes (it won’t), spending doesn’t make any noticeable difference, although our current governor may change that. Our state and most municipal employees, not just teachers, do better in benefits and pensions that federal employees and that doesn’t change, even with a Republican governor and legislature. Your mileage may vary outside the liberal Northeast or in non-union states.

    That is why Scott Walker is my hero. Even now, when I think about what he did, what he went up against to make real structural changes for his state, I am still amazed at his forbearance and bravery. I know he’s not perfect but to think we had such a man of principle and resolve running for President in 2016….*sobs quietly*. Nah, he didn’t have a chance.

    • #13
    • May 20, 2016, at 5:01 PM PDT
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  14. Leigh Member

    jeannebodine: Any of them have fully funded pensions (or even a significant portion thereof) for state workers?

    Wisconsin’s are fully funded. Though judging by your last comment maybe you already knew that.

    • #14
    • May 20, 2016, at 6:38 PM PDT
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  15. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    Brian Clendinen:You need to look at per capita spending increases. A big reason Texas and Florida had such a large increase is they were growing so fast. I ran this 4 years ago for a few candidates. Perry had a pretty large growth per capita but even after the growth Texas still was ranked 50th in spending per capita. It is just under Perry Texas was a lot closer to the 49th state than before him. Also more and more federal laws are dictating how states have to spend their money but that is to hard to calculate.

    This site suggests that by FY2014 Texas was being beaten by Nevada (1), New Hampshire (4), Missouri (3), and Florida (2). Changing rankings would also be an interesting metric.

    http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/per-capita-state-spending/

    It also does not look at headcount. For example Jeb in that time period might of spent more but actual headcount working for the state of Florida including those working for third party sub-contractors actually decreased under his leadership. So it is not like the headcount was reduced by just outsourcing.

    I’m on my phone, but CATO suggested at the time that a part of the problem was large incentives paid to companies who moved to Florida. The numbers they were talking about didn’t seem large enough to be responsible for all that much of a 25% single year hike and CATO can be pretty untrustworthy in overemphasizing the importance of harmful impacts of policies they dislike in politicians who don’t repeat libertarian shibboleths often enough, but it would answer the question of logistically how one could spend that much; as Obama found with the (much smaller) Stimulus, just getting that much money out the door is hard. Individual corporate subsidies can be as big as you like.

    • #15
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:03 PM PDT
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  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    jeannebodineThat is why Scott Walker is my hero. Even now, when I think about what he did, what he went up against to make real structural changes for his state, I am still amazed at his forbearance and bravery. I know he’s not perfect but to think we had such a man of principle and resolve running for President in 2016….*sobs quietly*. Nah, he didn’t have a chance.

    Walker is an absolute star, and in a field that didn’t include Trump and Cruz he could have done well. Sadly, this cycle was uniquely noisy and uniquely prone to media bias toward covering colorful candidates. Scott was quiet and hence came last in debate time and didn’t get heard. Maybe 2020, or maybe later; he’s a young guy. My current Walker fantasy sees him reelected, then given a cabinet post in 2022, VP in 2024, and a smooth path in ’28.

    There are other great governors out there, though, and, incredibly, we may increase our numbers in November. Scott is a great leader, but he’s got plenty of followers.

    • #16
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:22 PM PDT
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  17. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    Eric Hines:How do these spending growth numbers compare with the respective State GDPs over the same period? How do they compare with State deficits and debt growth over the same period?

    And I recommend you normalize them by per capita numbers, as Mr Clendinen suggested.

    Eric Hines

    As I suggested to Mr. Clendinen, I’d be happy to send you the sheet if you’d like to play with the numbers and would be excited to see any results.

    • #17
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:25 PM PDT
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  18. BriarRose Inactive

    James Of England:…Thirdly, does anyone know what happened in 2004 that sent Florida’s budget up by 25 percent in a single year? …

    Florida endured four major hurricanes in 2004. (What a summer that was! ) Perhaps that’s the source of the budget increase.

    • #18
    • May 21, 2016, at 2:58 AM PDT
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  19. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    BriarRose:

    James Of England:…Thirdly, does anyone know what happened in 2004 that sent Florida’s budget up by 25 percent in a single year? …

    Florida endured four major hurricanes in 2004. (What a summer that was! ) Perhaps that’s the source of the budget increase.

    You’re right! There wasn’t a comparable increase for Hurricane Andrew, but I guess the state and federal allocation of responsibility must have been different. I thought that Ricochet would have someone who’d know the answer.

    • #19
    • May 21, 2016, at 4:10 PM PDT
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  20. Eric Hines Inactive

    Building on JoE’s original table (and thanks for his original original table) I added a few columns. In the end, I left it at population growth, State per capita GDP growth, annualized State per capita GDP growth, and annualized state debt growth. Annualizations were done with Excel’s RRI function, and intervals running past 2014 were truncated to 2014. There are these caveats, too:

    • Split means different parties controlled the two houses of the legislature
    • GDP is in millions of $
    • These figures, generally, are from usgovernmentspending.com, and many of their numbers are estimates
    • State debt excludes local debt
    • Growth statistics used only the interval end points and none of the intervening values

    StateSpending

    That’s truly readable, eh? It is, cumbersomely: right click on the table and select Copy Image, then paste it into a (landscape orientation) Word doc or (hopefully) whatever Mac uses for its word processor.

    Roemer’s Louisiana performance was a bit of an outlier: despite LA’s population growth, his GDP performance was poor; on the other hand, he actually shrank the state’s debt.

    Who controlled the legislature vice who sat in the Governor’s chair didn’t seem to have much impact.

    Excluding the outlier, the four states whose annualized per capita GDP growth were more than 1 std dev above the average growth were Republican led. On the other hand, party appeared to be unimportant, whether debt growth was 1 std dev above or below the average debt growth.

    Eric Hines

    • #20
    • May 21, 2016, at 7:18 PM PDT
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  21. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    Eric Hines:Building on JoE’s original table (and thanks for his original original table) I added a few columns. In the end, I left it at population growth, State per capita GDP growth, annualized State per capita GDP growth, and annualized state debt growth. Annualizations were done with Excel’s RRI function, and intervals running past 2014 were truncated to 2014. There are these caveats, too:

    • Split means different parties controlled the two houses of the legislature
    • GDP is in millions of $
    • These figures, generally, are from usgovernmentspending.com, and many of their numbers are estimates
    • State debt excludes local debt
    • Growth statistics used only the interval end points and none of the intervening values

    StateSpending

    That’s truly readable, eh? It is, cumbersomely: right click on the table and select Copy Image, then paste it into a (landscape orientation) Word doc or (hopefully) whatever Mac uses for its word processor.

    Roemer’s Louisiana performance was a bit of an outlier: despite LA’s population growth, his GDP performance was poor; on the other hand, he actually shrank the state’s debt.

    Who controlled the legislature vice who sat in the Governor’s chair didn’t seem to have much impact.

    Excluding the outlier, the four states whose annualized per capita GDP growth were more than 1 std dev above the average growth were Republican led. On the other hand, party appeared to be unimportant, whether debt growth was 1 std dev above or below the average debt growth.

    Eric Hines

    Thank you! There’s some fascinating stuff in there.

    • #21
    • May 21, 2016, at 7:30 PM PDT
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  22. Fred Cole Member

    Everyone (James included) should look at Cato’s Fiscal Report Card on America’s Governors. It’s a report they do every two years. It presents a more complete picture that just looking at changes in spending numbers.

    The reports come out in even numbered years, you can find them easily by googling.

    • #22
    • May 22, 2016, at 3:29 PM PDT
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  23. Fred Cole Member

    By the way, here is the 1998 report card entry for Johnson:

    http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa315.pdf

    I bolded a section.

    New Mexico Gary E. Johnson, Republican Legislature: Democratic Took Office: 1/95 Grade: B A true citizen-lawmaker who calls himself a libertarian, Johnson never sought nor held an elective office before winning the statehouse in 1994. He started his own construction business while still in college and built it into one of the largest construction companies in the state. In a big-government state like New Mexico, where the state tax burden has long been among the most oppressive in the nation, Johnson’s staunch fiscal conservatism has been much needed, but also much resisted. In his first year in office he proposed $85 million in tax cuts, including a $47 million personal income tax cut–reducing the top rate from 8.5 percent to 8 percent–and a 6-cent gas tax cut. The Democratdominated legislature approved only a 3-cent gas tax cut worth about $15 million. In 1997 Johnson proposed a modest $15 million personal income tax cut that the legislature rejected; instead, it sent him a $45 million 5-cent per gallon phased-in gasoline tax hike that Johnson vetoed. This year Johnson again proposed a modest income tax cut of about $20 million, reducing the top rate from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent. Surprisingly, the legislature sent him an even larger tax cut package of $60 million, including a reduction of the top rate to 8.2 percent and elimination of the sales tax on prescription drugs, partially offset by a 12-cent cigarette tax hike. Johnson vetoed the cigarette tax hike and enthusiastically signed the income tax cut into law. On the spending side, general fund expenditures went up by 10 percent per year over the six years preceding the Johnson administration. In Johnson’s first year, spending rose by about 6 percent, and since then spending growth has averaged less than 4 percent per year. He has also reduced the number of state employees by nearly 10 percent, and he has set a state record for legislative vetoes. While New Mexico is still a high-tax state, Johnson has made great strides in reducing taxes and slowing spending growth, much to the displeasure of the entrenched tax-and-spend culture in Albuquerque.

    And here is the little chart they included:

    gj

    • #23
    • May 22, 2016, at 3:34 PM PDT
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  24. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    This is why CATO can’t be trusted. Talk about drugs a lot and they’ll say that your terrible spending, significantly worse than average, and worse debt increases, among the worst in America, is good. OTOH, mix serious cuts with social conservatism and they’ll respond at arms length.

    Like isidewith.com telling most people to vote Johnson or Clinton’s record being celebrated by union backed think tanks “my base thinks I’m objectively great” should only be taken as a serious argument by the choir being preached to; others are generally deceived when they are moved by such arguments.

    • #24
    • May 22, 2016, at 4:20 PM PDT
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  25. Fred Cole Member

    Okay. So just to clarify, what part of that summary did you take issue with?

    • #25
    • May 22, 2016, at 4:26 PM PDT
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  26. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    I think that the key way in which the chart is misleading is that so much of the new spending came in the form of refundable tax credits for Hollywood and such. Thus New Mexico, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, and such think that he grew government massively, but CATO slides over it.

    • #26
    • May 22, 2016, at 4:27 PM PDT
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  27. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    Fred Cole:Okay. So just to clarify, what part of that summary did you take issue with?

    The rating and the choice to exclude most new subsidies from the spending metric seem like the biggest issues.

    • #27
    • May 22, 2016, at 4:30 PM PDT
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  28. Fred Cole Member

    I see. So in total how big were those refundable tax credits? How much did they add up to?

    • #28
    • May 22, 2016, at 4:39 PM PDT
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  29. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Post author

    Fred Cole:I see. So in total how big were those refundable tax credits? How much did they add up to?

    Looking at the difference between the 2004 version of the Report card (sadly, they don’t look at data from after 2000 for Johnson because the 2004 one doesn’t look at the out years and the 2006 one doesn’t look at Johnson), I’m not sure how much of a difference is caused by that. Their figures in yours are for his first year only, which wasn’t as bad as later ones, although when they wrote it they had access to better information (I get that they only use old data for their objective scoring, for sound reasons, but the later hikes should have figured more in their subjective part). Plus, the bulk of the big subsidies came in the out years.

    Reading those, I should keep the complaint about the rating, but drop the complaint about the tax credits. I think the refundable tax credits are dodged in the later one, but I’m not sure if he got them into his first year at all, and even in the later one they avoid much of it by not looking at 75% of his second term.

    Rather, I momentarily forgot my chief issue with these things; they give points for saying that you’d like to do stuff, rather than doing it, and they give lots of points for vetoes. Thus the governors who actually cut spending by engaging in leadership and compromise are penalized over governors who take a more Obama-like approach of sitting back and relying on executive powers.

    Although quite a lot of the new spending was actively sought, it was apparently an area of bipartisan agreement; Johnson, his predecessor, and his successor all had an easy time getting the legislature to pay for companies to move to or do business in New Mexico, so I gather Johnson was pushing on an open door there. The refundable tax credits for films are hated by economists and policy guys just about everywhere, but are apparently still popular with the NM legislature. To quote the 2016 version of the report: “Film tax credits are the poster child of misguided tax incentive policies.” I feel like if they hadn’t had the warm personal relationship with Johnson that they did, they’d have been more upset about him inventing them.

    For comparison, they give his successor, Martinez, an identical score to him in the latest edition and a lower score in the 2012, although Martinez has actually cut spending and passed more pro-growth tax cuts. Martinez does it by getting down and working with legislators and has achieved real libertarian advances (civil asset forfeiture abolition being the closest to CATO’s heart) by doing so, but gets less credit from CATO than if she’d simply sent press releases from her office and given more talks at CATO.

    • #29
    • May 22, 2016, at 5:56 PM PDT
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  30. Fred Cole Member

    For anyone who is interested, here is the 1996 report card:

    http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa257.pdf

    Gary Johnson, Republican

    Legislature: Democratic

    Took Office: 1/95 Grade: B

    New Mexico Gary Johnson, Republican Legislature: Democratic Took Office: 1/95 Grade: B New Mexico has the ignominious distinction of being one of the five biggest spending states in the union. The state government spends $2,500 more per family of four than does the average state. New Mexico has 335 state employees per 10,000 residents–almost twice the national average of 180. Taxes are 30 percent above the national average. Johnson, a businessman turned politician, is aggressively trying to make the state more taxpayer friendly. To control spending, Johnson has vetoed 200 bills passed by a liberal legislature. His first budget cut about $50 million in projected spending increases and holds expenditures below inflation. State employees sued Johnson last year for unilaterally cutting agency budgets by 2.5 percent. Last year he sought repeal of the gross receipts tax on prescription drugs, a $47 million income tax cut, and repeal of a 1993 6-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike. The legislature approved only the gas tax cut, but he continues to agitate for income tax relief. The Associated Press recently wrote of Johnson that he holds a “conservative, cut-government philosophy. . . . He stands for anti-politics, anti-government, and anti- politicians.” In New Mexico his is a long-overdue voice for fiscal sanity.

    • #30
    • May 22, 2016, at 6:10 PM PDT
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