Dem 51
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GOP 49
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All Nine New Governors Have Huge Budget Surpluses

States are not allowed to run deficits. They have to balance their budgets. But they are allowed to run surpluses. All nine new governors were greeted with massive budget surpluses due to an influx of federal funds and higher tax revenues due to sales tax revenue from inflated prices. What they do with the money will define their legacies right off the bat. Here are the newbies.

Josh Green (D-HI)
Maura Healey (D-MA)
Katie Hobbs (D-AZ)
Tina Kotek (D-OR)
Joe Lombardo (R-NV)
Wes Moore (D-MD)
Jim Pillen (R-NE)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR)
Josh Shapiro (D-PA)

In Massachusetts, which has a $5 billion surplus, Maura Healey wants to establish free community college for people over 25. Josh Green and Tina Kotek want to spend at least $1 billion to deal with homelessness. Wes Moore wants to create a service-year program for high-school graduates.

Republican governors are naturally lured by the siren song of tax cuts. Jim Pillen can't wait to reduce the top rate for the state income tax and eliminate taxes on Social Security payments. However, at least one Republican governor, Joe Lombardo, wants to do something for his state. He wants to increase per-student spending, which ranks behind 40 other states. Former North Carolina governor, Pat "Bathroom bill" McCrory, said that when you inherit a surplus, it is best to use it for one-time improvements to infrastructure, rather than applying it to operating expenses. For example, houses built for homeless people will still be around in 10 or 20 years, no matter what the economy does, but raising teachers' salaries is a commitment for the future, when times may be tougher and the money isn't there.

In some cases, such as Massachusetts and Maryland, a legislature controlled by the Democrats has been frustrated time and time again by the former Republican governor. Now that each state has elected a Democratic governor, they can finally get their plans enacted.

Of course, unless the governor's party has the trifecta, the state legislature ultimately gets to make the call, no matter what the new governor wants. In Arizona, for example, Katie Hobbs is facing a legislature controlled by hostile Republicans. Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma pronounced Hobbs' proposed budget dead on arrival. Of course, she has veto power, so the Republicans are also going to have to deal with her, like it or not. (V)

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