Will Be Governor For Food Part 2
The Wall Street Journal shows states with surpluses in green and deficits in red. No data is available for the states in white. The majority of states will have trouble funding schools, law enforcement and infrastructure projects.
Minnesota Governor and 2012 presidential contender Tim Pawlenty went to the recent meeting Barack Obama had with governors. Pawlenty disparingly remarked on Obama's plan for a stimulus package.
Republican governors told Mr. Obama they had qualms about what they called indiscriminate federal spending. "Every dollar they send to us is money they don't have," Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said. "Meantime, that bill is being sent to our children and grandchildren."
When pressed by the media, Pawlenty and other Republican governors would not go on-the-record against taking federal stimiulus dollars. These Republicans have future political ambitions. They do not want to anger Grover Norquist by raising taxes.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to separate the sheep from the goats," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "The guys who turn around and say 'I can't rein in spending, I must raise taxes'...are going to have a hard time."
Norquist is a anti-tax radical with ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Norquist keeps an enemies list of Republicans that have strayed from his message. Norquist went after Florida congressman Vern Buchanan for voting for a tax increase. Norquist's influence is so strong that the Bush administration sent a representative to his weekly meetings.
Republican governors are screwed if their states go broke. Yet, they won't stand up to Norquist. The Governor with the biggest budget problems is Florida's Charlie Crist.
Among the states led by Republicans, Florida may have the biggest headache. Gov. Crist faces a $1.7 billion mid-fiscal-year shortfall, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Meanwhile, tax revenue in the state, which doesn't have an income tax, plunged 8.2% in the quarter ended in September from a year earlier as sales took a hit, according to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. Seeking to balance the budget, Gov. Crist has said he would consider a cigarette-tax increase of 50 cents a pack.
Rick Kriseman are pushing for a cigarette tax in the Florida House. Darryl Rouson is expanding the tax to cover tobacco-related products in smoke shops. Republican Sen. Dennis Jones supports a modest cigarette tax. Florida currently has the fifth lowest cigarette tax in the nation. A 50 cent tax increase would raise an estimated $400 million to $500 million in additional revenue.
Crist is faced with balancing the budget. His opponents will attack him on Florida's economic woes. If the tax is raised, Crist will have made an enemy out of Norquist. The latter will go to great pains to kill Crist's presidential ambitions.
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