Cato Institute Releases Report Card on Nation’s Governors

Many of New Mexico’s leading fiscal conservatives were quite upset when, in the 2004 Report Card, the Cato Institute gave Bill Richardson a “B” and called him “an aggressive tax cutter, the best Democratic Governor in the nation bar none,” and “one of the best new governors in the nation.”
Recently, Cato released its 2006 study of governors and, while Richardson only receives a “C,” Cato still lists him as the 9th-best Governor in the nation. What gives? For starters, despite all his shortcomings, Richardson is a net tax cutter based on his income and capital gains tax reductions. With all of the other governors out there raising taxes, Richardson is going to be seen in a favorable light on tax policy.
Spending is something of a different story. According to Cato: “Richardson’s budget proposals have grown faster each year, and the general fund budgets he signed into law between fiscal 2004 and 2006 have grown in total by a whopping 23 percent—almost five percentage points faster than population and inflation.”
We at the Rio Grande Foundation have been saying very much the same thing about Richardson’s spending record. If nothing else, hopefully his desire to play the part of a fiscal conservative and the reduction in oil and gas tax revenues will force Richardson to exert some fiscal restraint rather than raising taxes and further tarnishing his credibility as a “fiscal conservative.”