The Washington Post

Governors’ fiscal policies: Democrats fail, Republicans succeed, says Cato

Fiscal challenges states face likely will only get worse — especially in states run by Democrats — says a new report grading state governors on fiscal policy from the libertarian Cato Institute.

Four governors, all Republicans, were awarded an “A” in Cato’s report card: Sam Brownback of Kansas, Rick Scott of Florida, Paul LePage of Maine and Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania. Five governors, all Democrats, were awarded an “F” in the report: Pat Quinn of Illinois, Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii and Chris Gregoire of Washington. Even among the 17 governors who received the grade of “B,” only two were Democrats. Grades of “C” and “D” were roughly split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

The report “grades governors on their fiscal policies from a limited-government” perspective,” writes Cato’s Chris Edwards

Relying on publicly available data, the grading system evaluates governors on their taxing and spending records with governors who have cut taxes and spending the most receiving the highest grades, while those who have increased taxes and spending the most receive the lowest grades.

One of the more entertaining parts of the report is “Appendix B: Fiscal Policy Notes on the Governors,” which sometimes reads as dismissive notes a professor writes while grading a student’s paper and other times reads as a full dossier from an intelligence agency.   

You can find the full white paper here.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.



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Allen McDuffee · October 9, 2012