Cato Institute Gives Governor Bill Lee ‘D’ Grade on State Fiscal Policy Report Card

The Cato Institute released its 2022 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors on Wednesday, which grades the governors of all 50 U.S. states on their fiscal policies from a limited-government perspective.

According to its website, the Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank that “promotes an American public policy based on individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peaceful international relations.”

The Cato Institute ranked the governors on a point scale of 100, with the numerical scores converted to letter grades A to F.

Governors that received an “A” grade have cut taxes and spending the most, whereas governors that received an “F” grade have increased taxes and spending the most.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee was given a “D” rating with a numerical score of 35 out of 100. According to the institute, Lee was given a poor grade due to “large spending increases and a lackluster record on taxes.” The institute cited Lee’s proposal of “large general fund budget increases the past three years,” and noted that in 2022, the budget “jumped 21 percent.”

Specifically, the Cato Institute cited legislation Governor Lee signed in 2019 that “removed 15 occupations from Tennessee’s privilege tax, which is a $400 annual tax on people in certain occupations.” Additionally, the institute cited legislation Lee signed in 2020 that “required online out‐​of‐​state retailers to collect state sales taxes,” however, the sales tax revenues from the bill “were not used to cut taxes elsewhere.”

The institute also acknowledged Lee’s approval of several small tax cuts this year, including temporary suspensions of the state’s grocery tax, taxes on gun safes, and the license plate renewal fee and further reductions in the state’s privilege tax.

Only five governors received “A” grades in the report while eight states received “F” grades.

The five governors that received “A” grades were Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Brad Little of Idaho, and Doug Ducey of Arizona.

The eight governors that received an “F” were Tim Walz of Minnesota, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, J. B. Pritzker of Illinois, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Kate Brown of Oregon, Gavin Newsom of California, and Jay Inslee of Washington.

The institute noted that the average overall score of Republican governors was 56 and the average overall score of Democrat governors was 42.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Bill Lee” by Bill Lee. 




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5 Thoughts to “Cato Institute Gives Governor Bill Lee ‘D’ Grade on State Fiscal Policy Report Card”

  1. Kenneth Stem

    D seems appropriate. He certainly is not an R. Unless RINO counts. The Tennessee GOP is useless. They are thoroughly corrupt.

  2. nicky wicks

    i give him a D overall. not going to vote for him again.

  3. Mike

    This governor is not supporting smaller government for the people of Tennessee. Apparently he is in favor tax and spend. He needs to be voted out office.

    1. 83ragtop50

      Mike – The lame Tennessee GOP elite have been unwilling to challenge Little Billy Lee’s excessive budgets. He just gets what he wants. And what he wants is to make big splashes by giving away large sums of money to companies such as Ford in order to claim high “economic” growth. Unfortunately all that expense for getting his picture in the newspaper costs us taxpayers billions every year. The guy is so slimy that he smells.

      1. Lee deserves an F

        Agreed. A D is too kind. A 30 day tax break on groceries hardly warrants giving someone a poor passing of D rather than the F that they deserve.