Jack Dalrymple Ranked In Top Ten On Fiscal Policy By…The Cato Institute?
According to a ranking of the nation’s governors on tax and spending policy, North Dakota’s Governor Jack Dalrymple is ranked number 8 coming in with a “B” grade overall. Which is confusing, at first blush, to conservatives in the state who know Dalrymple and his old boss former Governor John Hoeven as free-spenders who have bloated the state’s budget even as tax revenues soar thanks to a booming economy. You wouldn’t think that would translate into a good grade from a free-market think tank like Cato.
But they do actually give Dalrymple a bad grade on spending (he ranks just above free-spending Democrat Pat Quinn from Illinois), but they give him a really good grade on tax relief. Here’s their summary of his grave (full report below):
North Dakota is enjoying an economic boom as the energy sector grows rapidly. Thestrong economy is creating a government revenue boom, which is allowing legislators toboth increase spending and cut tax rates. The biennium general fund budget is expectedto jump from $3.3 billion in 2010–2011 to $4.2 billion in 2012–2013, which is a huge 27 percent increase. The result is that Governor Dalrymple receives a low score on spending inthis report card.
However, the governor greatly boosted his grade by signing into law large tax cuts in2011. The cuts reduced individual income rates by about 18 percent and corporate tax ratesby about 20 percent. The top individual rate falls from 4.86 to 3.99 percent and the top cor-porate rate falls from 6.4 to 5.15 percent. The governor also approved local property tax re-lief. Dalrymple has recently suggested that he will propose additional property and incometax cuts in his next budget.
I think Cato is giving Dalrymple entirely too much credit for property tax relief. The income tax relief is nice, but on property taxes all we’ve done is make state appropriations to local governments which, in turn, haven’t really provided any tax relief at all. The problem has grown so bad that in June there was a measure put on the ballot by North Dakotans to eliminate property taxes entirely. It was defeated after voters were convinced that the solution was too extreme, but there is a consensus in the state on the idea that property taxes remain a problem despite the “property tax relief” the Dalrymple/Hoeven administrations have pushed since 2006.