New Budget Data: Romney's Mediocre RecordPosted by Sam Batkins - June 26, 2008
Romney’s spending record started off strong, but like most politicians, it degraded over time. During his first two years in office, the general fund budget grew at 0.1% and 4.1%, respectively, which is exceptional.
The next two years, however, saw the implementation of his universal health care plan (We won't name the D.C. Think Tank advising Mr. Romney.) and spending skyrocketed.
In FY 2006, spending jumped 7.6%, and in FY 2007, it grew 13%, hardly indicative of “fiscal conservatism.”
Overall spending during Romney’s tenure increased 20.7% (from $22.848 billion to $27.588 billion).
By comparison, a fellow Veepstakes candidate, Tim Pawlenty, increased spending in Minnesota by 17.2% (from $13.6 billion to $15.947 billion) from FY 2004-07 (more on Pawlenty next week).
Government employment in Massachusetts also grew 7.2% (from 62,012 state employees to 66,483) during Romney’s tenure. Someone had to manage the massive new healthcare bureaucracy.
Romney's tax record is mixed. Politicians rarely claim they raise taxes, but they like to distinguish between fees and outright tax hikes. Romney raised taxes or fees seven times in Mass, but only cut taxes three times.
Overall, during Romney’s four years in office, taxes increased $175 million. This total is nothing compared to some tax-hikers like Jon Corzine (D-NJ), but Romney doesn’t have a great record as a tax-cutter.
I imagine John McCain will take this mediocre record into account when making his VP choice.
Thoughts? Add Comment -
Kristina said on Jun 26 2008 at 12:57pm
Welcome back to Government Byytes, Sam!
Kathy said on Jun 27 2008 at 1:43pm
You are being overly harsh on Governor Romney, and your numbers are wrong.
Governor Romney did not raise taxes. He cut taxes 19 times. Fees were raised in the midst of a fiscal crisis at the outset of the Romney term, but they were not broad-based in any sense of the word.
Any honest look at Governor Romney's fiscal record has to take into account the fact that he was battling a Legislature that was 85 percent Democratic. During the first two years of Governor Romney's term, he was successful in getting the Legislature to live within its means, because of the fiscal crisis. But the Democrats routinely overrode his vetoes in the final two years of his term, which explains the higher spending. No one can fairly blame Governor Romney for the spend-happy ways of a Democratic Legislature. In fact, on the way out the door, Governor Romney, sensing a softening economy, withheld $500 million in spending, but every single dollar was restored by his Democratic successor, Deval Patrick. According to your analysis, Romney is to blame for that spending, too.
Your numbers on government employment are wildly inflated because you seek to ascribe to Governor Romney ALL government employees in Massachusetts, not just executive branch hires for which he is responsible. You are assigning to Governor Romney all the personnel working for the Democratic Attorney General, the Democratic Auditor and the Democratic Secretary of State, which are independent constitutional offices, as well as all the people who work in the separate branches of the Legislature and the Judiciary. If you look at executive branch agencies for which he is directly responsible, you will find the number of state employees went down by 600 full-time equivalents during Governor Romney’s term.
Here are the 19 Romney tax cuts:
1. CAPITAL GAINS TAXES: Governor Romney signed legislation providing taxpayers with a $250 million capital gains tax refund.
2. INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT: Governor Romney signed an economic stimulus package making the investment tax credit (ITC) permanent.
3. PROPERTY TAX RELIEF: Governor Romney proposed and signed legislation providing property tax relief to senior citizens.
4. 2004 SALES TAX HOLIDAY: Governor Romney enacted the state's first-ever sales tax holiday in 2004.
5. 2005 SALES TAX HOLIDAY: Governor Romney enacted a second sales tax holiday.
6. BIOTECH MANUFACTURING JOBS TAX REBATE: Governor Romney proposed and enacted a tax rebate for manufacturing jobs created in the biotechnology, life sciences and medical device fields.
7. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT TAX CREDIT: Governor Romney proposed and enacted an expansion of the R&D tax credit.
8. LOW-INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDIT: Governor Romney extended the low-income housing tax credit.
9. PRESCRIPTION DRUGS TAX RELIEF: Governor Romney abolished the prescription drug tax which fell disproportionately on seniors.
10. COMMUTER TAX RELIEF: Governor Romney signed legislation allowing commuters to deduct transportation costs from their income taxes.
11. VETERANS TAX RELIEF: Governor Romney signed legislation providing disabled Massachusetts veterans with extensive tax exemptions.
12. HOME HEATING OIL DEDUCTION/ENERGY EFFICIENT CREDIT: Governor Romney signed legislation giving homeowners a deduction of up to $800 for home heating costs and providing a one-time credit for homeowners who purchase energy efficient heating products.
13. BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: Governor Romney proposed and enacted a refundable tax credit to promote development at the former Fort Devens U.S. Army base.
14. FIRE SAFETY TAX DEDUCTION: Governor Romney proposed and enacted a tax deduction for businesses installing automatic sprinkler systems to enhance fire safety.
15. CONFORMITY TO FEDERAL INCOME TAX CODE: Under Governor Romney, Massachusetts was brought into conformity with the federal code, providing Massachusetts taxpayers with a range of credits, exemptions and deductions previously unavailable to them.
16. MEDICAL DEVICE TAX CREDIT: Governor Romney enacted legislation providing a tax credit for user fees paid by medical device manufacturers to the U.S. Food And Drug Administration.
17. MOTION PICITURE TAX CREDIT: Governor Romney signed legislation providing tax incentives for movie And television production in Massachusetts.
18. BROWNFIELD REDEVELOPMENT TAX CREDIT EXTENTION: Governor Romney signed legislation extending the tax credit for brownfield site redevelopment.
19. HISTORIC REHABILITATION TAX CREDIT: Under Governor Romney, the historic rehabilitation tax credit was created which provides a tax credit for the renovation of historic buildings.
Sam said on Jun 28 2008 at 12:05pm
You seem to really love Governor Romney, and while I have nothing against him, the numbers from NASBO are not wrong.
I also understand the state employment numbers are not entirely reflective of Governor Romney's actions. There are others to blame within state government.
I encourage you to to visit the NASBO site (www.nasbo.org) and take issue with their methods of collecting budget data.
Tax cuts are great, but they typically disappear when politicians add massive entitlement spending (see Governor Romney's plan and the President's drug bill).
said on Jun 28 2008 at 12:07pm
Fees=hidden tax hikes