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Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons gets ‘B’ grade from Cato Institute for stance against tax hikes


By the staff, Nevada News Bureau: Gov. Jim Gibbons has received a “B” grade from the Cato Institute for his performance in dealing with Nevada’s major budget and fiscal challenges over the past two years.

“Nevada is enduring tough economic times and government tax collections have fallen substantially,” the Cato Institute said in its 10th biennial fiscal report card of the nation’s governors. “Gov. Gibbons has generally refused to increase taxes to make up for the shortfall because that would make the economic situation even worse.”

The Cato Institute said: “In proposing spending cuts rather than tax increases to balance the budget, Gibbons noted: ‘It is not the role of the state government to put people out of work.’ ”

“He said the government would be ‘piling on’ the difficulty that citizens and businesses are already having if it raised taxes,” the report card says. “Gibbons has proposed business tax cuts and opposed and vetoed numerous tax increases. In 2009, he vetoed a big increase in sales and payroll taxes, but the Legislature overrode his veto. Gibbons has supported some modest tax increases, but he seems to understand that broad-based increases would damage the state’s pro-enterprise environment.”

In a statement, Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said the governor is proud of his record against raising taxes and opposing new taxes. He is also proud to have kept that promise he made to voters four years ago.

“It’s easy to say you won’t raise taxes,” Gibbons said, “Many people talk the talk. I am proud that I have walked the walk and stood up for the working families of Nevada.”

The report card calculated data on the taxing and spending habits of 45 of the nation’s 50 governors between 2008 to August 2010. The governors are scored from 0 to 100 on seven separate taxing and spending variables. The scores are aggregated and converted to letter grades, A to F.

Gibbons received a score of 61. Only seven governors had higher scores with the highest, a 74, going to Republican Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

The three other governors awarded an “A” in the report card were Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin is the only Democrat to get an “A” grade.

Seven governors were awarded an “F”: Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, David Paterson of New York, Jodi Rell of Connecticut, Pat Quinn of Illinois, Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Bill Ritter of Colorado and Chris Gregoire of Washington. All except Rell are Democrats.

The report notes that many states raised taxes even though the federal government “showered them with billions of dollars of added funding in last year’s ‘stimulus’ bill.”

The Cato Institute describes itself as a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

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