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|
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).