Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors 2020
From Cato.org, Oct 5, 2020
Going into 2020, the United States was in its 11th year of economic expansion and state governments were enjoying robust revenue and spending growth. Then COVID-19 hit and triggered a deep recession. State governments have seen their projected revenues decline and have started trimming spending to keep their 2021 budgets balanced. Some states had accumulated large rainy day funds and were prepared for the downturn, but other states have been overspending, accumulating debt, and saving little for the rainy day that has now arrived.
That is the backdrop to this year’s 15th biennial fiscal report card on the governors, which examines state budget actions since 2018. It uses statistical data to grade the governors on their tax and spending records—governors who have restrained taxes and spending receive higher grades, while those who have substantially increased taxes and spending receive lower grades….
(Governors receiving an A are those who have cut taxes and spending the most, whereas governors receiving an F have raised taxes and spending the most.)
- David Ige, Democrat
- Legislature: Democratic
- Grade: D
- Took office: December 2014
David Ige pulled up his grade to a D this year after earning an F on the last Cato fiscal report. Prior to entering the governor’s office, Ige was a state legislator and a manager in the telecommunications industry.
In his first few years in office, Ige proposed and signed into law increases in income taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, hotel room taxes, and other charges. Since 2018, Ige has both raised taxes and vetoed tax increases. He approved a bill that created a higher estate tax rate bracket for the largest estates, and he also increased travel‐related taxes.
In 2019, Ige vetoed two bills that would have raised taxes more than $50 million annually. One would have increased taxes on real estate investment trusts, which Ige argued would have discouraged investment. The other would have raised taxes on vacation rentals such as Airbnb.
Hawaii’s general fund spending rose a hefty 5.7 percent in 2020, thus reducing the governor’s score in this report.
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