Tuesday October 09, 2012 | 10:31 AM

The national libertarian organization Cato Institute has given an 'A' to Gov. Paul LePage and three other governors. 

The group, part of a national network of free-market non-profits that attempt to influence policy making, praised LePage for signing into law a tax cut package that reduced the individual rate from 8.5 to 7.95 percent, "simplified tax brackets and reduced taxes on business investment."

The governor also received high marks for signing a tax cut law that will further reduce the individual rate if there are budget surpluses. 

"The governor says that his ultimate goal is to phase out the individual income tax completely, and he wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 8 to 4 percent," the report said. "LePage has also focused on spending cuts. He signed into law reforms to reduce the costs of welfare, health care and pensions, and he wants to end funding for Maine Public Broadcasting, calling it “corporate welfare."

Most of the aforementioned policies were opposed by Democrats, although many voted for the tax cut package. The reason, they now say, is because supporting the tax cuts was the only way to prevent cuts to safety net programs.

Republicans, meanwhile, have not used those tax cuts as a campaign issue. Most of their campaign literature has championed a citizens initiative to repeal a tax reform law that was passed before Republicans came to power in 2010.

Only Republican governors received an 'A' from Cato this year. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett joined LePage in receiving the highest marks. 

Only two Democratic governors received 'Bs,' New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. 

For reference, former Maine Gov. John Baldacci was one of seven Democratic governor to receive a 'B' from Cato in 2010. Baldacci was praised for his efforts to reduce property taxes and his opposition to broad-based income and sales tax increases. Cato criticized Baldacci for his support of the 2010 tax reform law that raised feeds on soft drinks, alcohol and other services.


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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or smistler@pressherald.com.
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