Monday, February 23, 2015

Bad budgets hurt 2016 hopefuls

Christie, Walker, and Jindal are caught between balanced budget mandates and flagging revenues

By James Hohmann,
2/23/15 5:31 AM EST

2016 is shaping up as an awfully tough time to be a governor and run for president.

Caught between legal mandates to balance their state budgets and the prospect that raising taxes could derail their national ambitions, several Republican state executives eyeing White House bids are proposing deep budget cuts this month to square their state finances. The moves threaten to damage their standing at home, upset some GOP allies and cause a distraction as they ramp up for presidential campaigns.

Chris Christie tops the list: New Jersey’s financial mess is arguably more damaging to his White House prospects than the bridge traffic scandal that dominated the news most of last year. Up against a Democratic-controlled legislature, he has little room to maneuver. Several lawmakers are insisting on gas tax increases to fund a transportation fund that’s $15.6 billion in debt and due to run out of money in June. Christie has presided over repeated downgrades in New Jersey’s credit rating, and the state pension system is also deep in the red.

But the governor vowed in his state of the state address last month to veto any income tax increases, and in a speech Thursday he went further, suggesting he would oppose tax increases of any kind.

(More here.)


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