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Both Republicans and Democrats are featuring governors at their national nominating conventions. Because convention speakers are chosen as the parties’ ambassadors to new audiences during these TV spectacles, the state policy team at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy are providing quick sketches of current governors from both parties who have been leaders – for better and for worse – in state tax policy. Below are profiles of two governors: Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, who was scheduled to speak tonight but bowed out to handle Hurricane Isaac, and Susana Martinez of New Mexico.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal: Last year, the Governor dismissed a legislative plan to eliminate the state’s personal and corporate income taxes as too radical. This year, the budget he ultimately signed was full of “one-time” money lifted from other parts of the budget to fill in gaps. Still, as he turns his attention toward reforming the state’s tax structure, he is opposed to raising more revenue, saying, “[w]e are not going to do anything that raises revenue. It needs to be revenue-neutral.”
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez: In her 2011 State of the State Address, Governor Martinez waxed eloquent about supporting small business, saying, “It’s the small businesses — the mom-and-pop shops, the small startups — that get lost in the layers of red tape….We will help them….” But the fact is, Martinez failed even in her ill-advised effort to exempt roughly half the state’s small businesses – those earning less than $50,000 per year – from the gross receipts tax. And, when she had a chance to sign a bill that really did support small business owners (and that had widespread support from business groups in her state!), Martinez vetoed it. She always said she would, actually, oppose combined reporting, which is a smart rule that levels the playing field for small business by preventing large corporations from creating subsidiaries in other states to avoid paying taxes.