Elizabeth Daigneau is GOVERNING's managing editor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shhhh, no one tell Grover Norquist! Several Republican governors have supported tax increases this year, the latest one being Connecticut's Jodi Rell. From Stateline:
Rell's turnaround demonstrates the difficulty of this recession on governors and state lawmakers. Deep spending cuts and direct federal aid from the economic stimulus are not enough in many states to wipe out budget shortfalls. Republican Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Jan Brewer of Arizona, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Charlie Crist of Florida also have endorsed various tax increases on cigarettes, gasoline, income, sales, businesses, and hospital beds.
Of these governors, the most interesting one is probably Barbour. He seems to have presidential ambitions and normally is a loyal conservative. In fact, recently he gathered in Washington with Norquist and Steve Moore, the founder of the anti-tax Club for Growth (among others), for a political confab. The Hattiesburg American offers some context on Barbour:
Governor Haley Barbour has said it so often during his first 5-1/2 years in office that he probably drawls it in his sleep: "I'm against raising anybody's taxes."
This year, the Republican signed three significant tax bills into law, and he didn't do so grudgingly. Barbour lobbied legislators for a hospital tax to help fund Medicaid and for two increases in the cigarette excise tax.
On the hospital tax, Barbour said: "We're reinstating a tax that was collected before I was governor for many years, that the federal government decided that we were not collecting it in a legal way. For four years, I have been trying to get that restored because we need it for Medicaid. Let's remember, the hospitals offered to pay this tax. It was their idea. They wrote the law in the Fordice administration that created this. So, this is a reinstatement of a tax. It's not a tax increase."
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