An Outbreak of Fiscal Responsibility in the States

Let no one say that doing the right thing while governing is easy. Governors across the 50 states are tasked with administering laws passed by their legislatures and ensuring that core government services are provided efficiently. The best of them attempt to do so without busting budgets or unnecessarily expanding the role of government.

Nothing is more important than what a state’s chief executive actually does, of course, but much can be learned from what they say as well. In surveying the governors’ most recent State of the State addresses, a clear trend emerges: Even when tax reform and spending control are blamed for economic woes they did not create, and even when the energy sector’s downturn is hampering state budgets, many governors stayed true to pro-growth, limited-government principles. That is cheering news for hardworking taxpayers.

Similar to CEOs in the private sector, governors help craft the agenda and vision of their states. They do so by liaising with their state legislatures, but also through direct interaction with constituents. State of the State addresses, traditionally given at the beginning of each legislative session, represent what the executives believe that vision should be.

For the second edition of its annual State of the States report, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Center for State Fiscal Reform reviewed each State of the State address given by an executive this legislative session. With a goal of identifying trends developing in governors’ explicitly stated goals, the report tallied every tax and fiscal policy proposal. For individuals who believe governors are largely shying away from fiscally responsible, pro-taxpayer agendas, the results will come as a surprise. Limited-government and fiscally responsible proposals flourished.

Read more…

Williams, Jonathan and Joe Horvath (2016, August 26). An Outbreak of Fiscal Responsibility in the States. Governing. Retrieved from