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Press Release

New Report Card on State Governors


Against the backdrop of the worst state budget crunch in years, this report presents the findings of Cato Institute’s sixth biennial fiscal policy report card on the nation’s governors. The report card’s grading is based on 17 objective measures of each governor’s fiscal performance.

Governors who have cut taxes and spending the most receive the highest grades. Those who have increased spending and taxes the most receive the lowest grades.

This year, two governors receive the highest grade of A: Bill Owens of Colorado and Jeb Bush of Florida. Four governors receive the lowest grade of F: Gray Davis of California, Don Sundquist of Tennessee, Bob Taft of Ohio, and John Kitzhaber of Oregon.

The governors of some of America’s most populous states and their grades are George Pataki of New York, B; George Ryan of Illinois, D; and John Engler of Michigan, B.

State governments faced a combined budget gap of more than $40 billion in 2002, largely as a result of an overspending binge in the 1990s. Most governors will confront more tough budget choices in 2003. We hope that governors do not make the mistake of raising taxes to try to balance budgets, as many did in the economic slowdown of the early 1990s. Instead, by reducing spending and cutting tax rates, governors can return their states to fiscal and economic health. If they do, we will have many high grades to reward on the next Cato fiscal report card.





Governor Party State Score Grade
Owens (R) Colorado 76 A
Bush (R) Florida 67 A
Barnes (D) Georgia 64 B
Pataki (R) New York 63 B
Guinn (R) Nevada 63 B
Janklow (R) South Dakota 60 B
Johnson (R) New Mexico 60 B
Locke (D) Washington 60 B
Engler (R) Michigan 58 B
Martz (R) Montana 58 B
Keating (R) Oklahoma 58 B
Rowland (R) Connecticut 58 B
Swift (R) Massachusetts 56 B
Minner (D) Delaware 54 C
Patton (D) Kentucky 53 C
Musgrove (D) Mississippi 53 C
Kempthorne (R) Idaho 53 C
Cayetano (D) Hawaii 52 C
O'Bannon (D) Indiana 52 C
Huckabee (R) Arkansas 52 C
Geringer (R) Wyoming 52 C
Johanns (R) Nebraska 52 C
Almond (R) Rhode Island 50 D
Hodges (D) South Carolina 50 D
Hull (R) Arizona 49 D
Ryan (R) Illinois 49 D
Leavitt (R) Utah 48 D
Graves (R) Kansas 48 D
Shaheen (D) New Hampshire 48 D
Ventura (I) Minnesota 48 D
Siegelman (D) Alabama 48 D
King (I) Maine 47 D
Vilsack (D) Iowa 46 D
Glendening (D) Maryland 46 D
Dean (D) Vermont 46 D
Hoeven (R) North Dakota 45 D
Foster (R) Louisiana 44 D
Wise (D) West Virginia 44 D
Davis (D) California 42 F
Sundquist (R) Tennessee 40 F
Taft (R) Ohio 40 F
Kitzhaber (D) Oregon 30 F

View the whole report at