A new report of the fiscal health of all fifty states shows that fully 19 of the top 20 most successful governors are Republicans.
The 2018 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors was released by the CATO Institute on Tuesday awarding the top most successful economy rating to New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. (See report HERE)
According to the summary:
Five governors were awarded an A on this report: Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Henry McMaster of South Carolina, Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Paul LePage of Maine, and Greg Abbott of Texas. Eight governors were awarded an F: Roy Cooper of North Carolina, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Jim Justice of West Virginia, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, David Ige of Hawaii, Kate Brown of Oregon, and Jay Inslee of Washington.
Governors of every state are having their fiscal choices shaped by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. State income tax bases are tied to the federal tax base, so governors have been considering which federal changes to conform to. Also, the capping of the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes has increased the bite of those taxes for millions of households. The cap has increased the relative burden of living in a high-tax state, and it may induce higher out-migration from those states over time.
The state fiscal environment is also being shaped by recent Supreme Court decisions regarding online sales taxes and public-sector labor unions. Furthermore, the legalization of marijuana has created a new source of revenue for some states.
But the top and bottom states are instructive because the top 20 are almost exclusively filled with Republicans while the worst states are almost all Democrat-led states.
Of the top five governors that received an A grade, all are Republicans:
- New Mexico Susana Martinez (R) 73 A
- South Carolina Henry McMaster (R) 69 A
- North Dakota Doug Burgum (R) 68 A
- Maine Paul LePage (R) 67 A
- Texas Greg Abbott (R) A
Not only that, but not a single Democrat governor received a B grade, either:
- Ohio John Kasich (R) 62 B
- Nebraska Pete Ricketts (R) 62 B
- Mississippi Phil Bryant (R) 62 B
- Wyoming Matt Mead (R) 61 B
- Illinois Bruce Rauner (R) 59 B
- Georgia Nathan Deal (R) 59 B
- Florida Rick Scott (R) 56 B
- Idaho C. L. “Butch” Otter (R) 56 B
- Vermont Phil Scott (R) 56 B
- New Hampshire Chris Sununu (R) 56 B
- Michigan Rick Snyder (R) 55 B
And of the eight governors who were slapped with an F grade, only 2 were Republicans:
- North Carolina Roy Cooper (D) 39 F
- Louisiana John Bel Edwards (D) 37 F
- Pennsylvania Tom Wolf (D) 37 F
- West Virginia Jim Justice (R) 35 F
- Hawaii David Ige (D) 35 F
- South Dakota Dennis Daugaard (R) 35 F
- Oregon Kate Brown (D) 30 F
- Washington Jay Inslee (D) 23 F
It should not be a surprise that only Republican governors have succeeded in leading their states to success.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.