The lyrics “You want to go where everybody knows your name”, from the TV show Cheers gives you a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be part of the Cato Club 200 retreat.
“Lucky us!” is how Becky and I felt as we spent the weekend with friends, experts, and scholars that are pretty close to 100% in agreement on the right size of government—smaller.
One of my favorite talks at this year’s retreat, held at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, VA, was by Nicole Kaeding previewing Cato’s 12th biannual Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors written by Chris Edwards and Kaeding.
What’s great about the Cato Club 200 retreat is that the scholars are available for discussion all weekend long. I always make it a point to talk with my friend Chris Edwards and catch up on his work at DownsizingGovernment.org. I also visited with Kaeding after her talk to get the inside scoop on the governors report—needless to say it’s no surprise California’s Jerry Brown is at the bottom of the list.
It’s worth noting that 9 out of the top 10 governors with “A” or “B” grades are Republicans which tells me they can do the right thing with proper guidance. As for the bottom of the list there were 8 “F”s and all were Democrats telling me the only way to reform this group is to vote the bums out.
This year we awarded “A” grades to four governors:
• Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed a bill replacing individual-income-tax rates of 6.0, 7.0, and 7.75 percent with a single rate of 5.75 percent. He also cut the corporate-tax rate from 6.9 to 5.0 percent and repealed the estate tax.
• Sam Brownback of Kansas approved a plan in 2012 replacing three individual-income-tax rates with two and cutting the top rate from 6.45 to 4.9 percent. The reform also increased the standard deduction and reduced taxes on small businesses. Brownback cut income-tax rates further in 2013.
• Paul LePage of Maine signed major income-tax cuts in 2011, and he is pushing for further tax reforms. State spending has been roughly flat in recent years, and LePage has trimmed spending on welfare, health care, and other programs.
• Mike Pence of Indiana has been frugal on spending and a champion tax cutter. He signed bills to cut individual-income-tax rates 5 percent (the current rate of 3.4 percent will fall to 3.23 percent in 2017) and repeal the inheritance tax. He also approved a corporate-income-tax rate cut and a major reduction in property taxes on businesses.