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Mark Dayton gets F grade in Cato Institute's 2012 governor fiscal policy report card

The Cato Institute gives Dayton low marks for proposing a tax increase on the wealthy.
The Cato Institute gives Dayton low marks for proposing a tax increase on the wealthy.

The D.C.-based Cato Institute is a conservative think tank co-founded by Charles Koch, so of course researchers there and Gov. Mark Dayton weren't destined to be bosom buddies.

SEE ALSO:
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-- Dayton vetoes "smokin' hot" MNGOP-crafted tax cut bill

Still, the amount of scorn Cato's Chris Edwards slathers Dayton with is impressive, as Minnesota's chief executive received the third worst 2012 fiscal policy report card of any governor in the country.

Here's what Edwards has to say about Dayton:

Mark Dayton of Minnesota soon revealed his taste for bigger government after he entered office in 2011. General fund spending jumped almost 10 percent in his first year in office. To fund the spending, he proposed a large tax increase to raise $2 billion a year. The plan would have raised the top personal income tax rate from 7.85 to 10.95 percent, with an additional 3 percentage point tax on top of that for the highest earners. Dayton also wanted business tax increases and a new property tax on higher-valued homes. The legislature rejected Dayton's tax-increase plans.

... After trying to clobber the Minnesota economy with higher taxes in 2011, Dayton apparently wanted to show that he was helping the economy and has supported narrow giveaways to businesses. For example, he proposed a temporary tax credit of $1,500 to businesses for each new person hired, and he signed legislation to subsidize a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.

Edwards ended up giving Dayton and four other Democratic governors F grades. Unsurprisingly, his four A grades all went to Republicans, including Kansas' Sam Brownback and Florida's Rick Scott.

But one thing Edwards fails to note in his analysis of Dayton's fiscal performance is that by the Cato's own numbers, Minnesota's state coffers have experienced one of the largest revenue influxes since the last election cycle. The "changes in revenue from proposed and enacted tax changes" under Dayton's watch has been a gain of 5.5 percent, the second largest in the entire country.

Some might view that as government spending stimulating the economy, but within the walls of the Cato Institute, it just provides an opportunity to ponder how much better things might be under the watchful eye of a fiscal conservative like, say, Tom Emmer.


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