Monday, November 03, 2008

Maryland's Governor Ranks Last on Fiscal Policy

In a newly-released report entitled "Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors: 2008" authored by Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley ranks at the very bottom of the pile of governors in his handling of fiscal policy. Governor O'Malley is not on the ballot tomorrow. But the report's last place ranking of the governor's handling of the state's fiscal affairs nevertheless is instructive as Marylanders head to the polls with economic matters very much on their minds.

The Cato paper explains that: "The report card grades the governors on their fiscal performance from a limited-government perspective. The governors receiving an 'A' are those who cut taxes and spending the most, while the governors receiving an 'F' raised taxes and spending the most. The grading mechanism is based on seven variables, including two spending variables, one revenue variable, and four tax rate variables."

With regard to Governor O'Malley's ranking, the report has this to say: "The lowest-scoring governor, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, spearheaded the passage of a $1.4 billion tax increase in 2007, which was unique in its large size and scope. It increased the corporate tax rate, the top personal income tax rate, the sales tax rate, and the cigarette tax rate. It also expanded the sales tax base and raised taxes on vehicles. This enormous increase will hit Marylanders directly in the pocketbook, and indirectly through slower economic growth over time."

The Cato report describes in details the variables used to grade the fifty governors' fiscal policies. You can judge for yourself whether you think Governor O'Malley's ranking is warranted.