Jindal in Mt. Pleasant, IAPhoto credit: Dave Davidson - Prezography.com
Jindal is the only candidate who can say he cut spending.
Photo credit: Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Cato Institute released a study which is fascinating, and it gives you a sense of how current or former Governors among the 2016 Republican field will govern should they win the White House.

They looked the rate of growth of government spending under the administrations of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former New York Governor George Pataki, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

It’s pretty eye opening.

Nicole Kaeding writes:

Using data from the National Association of State Budget Officers, I wanted to see just how much each governor increased spending on an annual basis. Analyzing the data on an annual basis allows us to control for the length of governor tenure. George Pataki was governor of New York for twelve years, while Scott Walker has been governor of Wisconsin for only four years. Comparing Pataki’s increase of 39 percent to Walker’s increase of 16 percent is unfair to Pataki.

….Jeb Bush has the highest spending with a 6.08 percent average annual increase. John Kasich is second. He increased spending by 4.95 percent. Rick Perry finishes third with an average annual increase of 4.01 percent. Bobby Jindal shows the most fiscal restraint. He cut spending by 1.76 percent a year on average.

Kaeding acknowledged that different state’s population growth rates are different and that would explain some spending increases as demands on vital public services increase such as schools and police.

She states taking that into consideration the spending looks different.

The spending increases of Jeb Bush and Rick Perry now look much smaller. Jeb Bush’s increases are still above the average, but Rick Perry falls below it. Part of the reason that spending increased quickly under Bush and Perry is that their state populations were growing quickly. John Kasich’s increases, on the other hand, are an outlier. He increased spending faster on a per capita basis. This further confirms Kasich’s lack of fiscal restraint. Bobby Jindal actually cut spending on a per capita basis by an average of 2.41 percent a year.

Here’s the chart:

per_capita_annual_spending

Perry’s spending seems reasonable due to the growth of the population, but Jindal is the only candidate who actually cut overall spending.  That I’m sure will show up in a few campaign ads.

3 comments
  1. Hi Shane: I’m a policy wonk, so forgive me for a long post on Jindal. Louisiana’s spending cuts were not part of rational strategy for responsible budgets, but due to a total revenue crisis caused by the legislature and Jindal’s fiscal mismanagement. There is good reason Jindal spends so much time in Iowa: he’s one of the least popular governors in the nation. The short read on LA’s budget crisis can be read in highlights here: http://www.labudget.org/lbp/2015/02/louisianas-1-6-billion-problem-how-did-we-get-here/

    I highly recommend anyone interested in responsible budgeting to read the award-winning report here (all parts are very informative, but this is the summary). Conservatives will find plenty to hate in Jindal’s record of governing. To summarize one GOP lawmaker’s view of the state’s out-of-control 450+ tax credits: “Why does government get to choose who’s successful and who isn’t?” Even with a tax base so small that the state is now in crisis, Louisiana still only earns a #35 in the nation for tax-friendliness. Why? Because it is rated lower for so many giveaways and tax code complexity! Like I said, highly recommended for lessons on how NOT to run a state. http://blogs.theadvocate.com/specialreports/2014/11/26/giving-away-louisiana/

    It’s also instructive that Jindal taking a hardline no new taxes pledge helped drive this mess. Another story.

    Also, if you want to see a depressing but informative history of crazy bayou politics, watch Louisiana Boys. It shows the state’s problems with bad govt are long-standing.

    1. You are right that Louisiana has been plagued with bad government. Jindal’s predecessor, Kathleen Blanco, had a budget crisis of her own. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5009102.

      I also remember the rampant corruption that was common place. I’ll have to dig into this and learn more. Can we agree that this trend of constant growth of government is not a good one? I’m not talking about growth in services due to population growth, but honestly most of the growth in government spending out paces that. It needs to stop.

      1. Agreed. There are always ways to deliver existing services more efficiently (especially in government, where $ baseline increases across the board even with little to no evidence of good outcomes!). I worry about Republican governors gaming arguments on spending growth. States’ situations are very different. Low spending states (I can think of some in the South, but not LA) can actually stand better funding in some crucial areas — this is the issue that got Huckabee in trouble (undeservedly, I would say) governing Arkansas. High spending states like WI have more pork and unneeded spending to cut — and so getting big $ amount reductions is doable — although the political environment tends to be set against doing so; people get used to govt spending.

        I think you do a good thing by controlling for population; it makes things clearer. That said, it’s most important to me what the $ is spent on and how a candidate’s main priorities are reflected in their budget plans. I’m not going to quibble over a % or two difference on the Republican side. I’m also eliminating anyone from my list who lacks a plan for entitlement reform, since that’s the big federal issue. So clearly, Trump and Huckabee are both out. 🙂

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