In the aftermath of the recent presidential election, politicians, analysts, academics, and other opinion leaders were quick to denounce the Republican Party for appealing to certain demographics, alienating independent voters, and supporting divisive positions on controversial issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and drug regulation. President Obama's significant electoral victory, the preservation of the Democrat majority in the Senate, and the success of initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana and same-sex marriage prompted many to declare that the Republican Party's "fans are dying" and that the party must adapt in order to attain electoral victories in the future. This argument, however, does not account for the significant Republican accomplishments at the state level. Republican governors have enacted policies which have led to lower unemployment rates, lower taxes, more business-friendly environments, balanced budgets and stronger economies.
The results-oriented leadership of Republican governors, along with policies such as "right-to-work" laws and tax cuts for small businesses, are reasons why unemployment rates are decreasing in many states. According to an analysis released by The Examiner, every one of the 17 states that elected Republican governors in 2010 witnessed a significant decrease in unemployment rates since January of 2011. This, however, was not the case for states that elected Democratic governors during that election cycle. Unemployment rates in these states decreased only slightly while the unemployment rate in New York, for example, increased after the election of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, eight of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates in the nation have Republican governors and are "right-to-work" states. In fact, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Utah, Wyoming and Oklahoma -- all led by Republican governors and predominately Republican state legislatures -- comprise the first seven states on the list. On the other hand, six of the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates are predominately managed by Democrats. Prominent examples of states with lower unemployment rates and other achievements due to the policies of Republican governors include New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In New Jersey, the contrast between Gov. Chris Christie's leadership and that of previous Democratic governor John Corzine is very significant. Gov. Christie, who has balanced the state budget without increasing taxes and recently offered over $2.3 billion in tax breaks for small businesses, is obviously responsible for the notable growth in employment that the state has experienced.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has also reduced unemployment in his state by implementing similar policies. Since his election, Gov. Scott has enacted laws which have decreased car insurance fraud, obligated welfare recipients to undergo drug testing, and offered over $1 billion in tax breaks for small businesses. As a result, Florida's unemployment rate dropped nearly 2 percent within one year of Gov. Scott taking office. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also contributed to a decline in unemployment by balancing Ohio's budget, eliminating an $8 billion deficit, offering $800 million in tax relief for businesses and curtailing collective bargaining. He also refurbished the state Medicaid system, privatized public infrastructure, and endorsed tax reform that brought businesses to the state in unprecedented numbers. In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell stimulated his state's economy by reducing spending, balancing the budget, and developing the renewable energy industry. This resulted in a budget surplus, incentives for corporations, such as CSC, SAIC, Volkswagen, and Hilton, to relocate to Virginia, and a significant decrease in the state's unemployment rate.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, similar to Gov. Kasich, followed suit by saving Iowa firms over $300 million due to commercial property tax reform, enacting an executive order to create 200,000 new jobs, reforming the education system, and reducing Medicaid fraud. As a result, Iowa has maintained the highest credit rating possible and continues to prosper due to a $483.2 million budget surplus. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's "Repair the Budget" bill addressed shortfalls in the state budget, decreased the Medicaid deficit, lowered the state's interest rate, and altered collective bargaining rights so that public sector employees fund their own benefits. This has resulted in an increase in employment, the eradication of the budget deficit, a $154 million budget surplus, and a balanced budget that was last seen nearly thirty years prior. Before Gov. Walker was elected, only 10 percent of the state's business owners, employers, and administrators believed that Wisconsin was heading in the right direction, but now 94 percent say it is. Success, however, is not limited to the aforementioned states.
Republican governors have also worked toward implementing lower tax rates for individuals as well as businesses. According to the Tax Foundation's annual State and Local Tax Burden report, nine of the 10 states with the lowest tax burden are managed by Republican governors and Republican-majority legislatures. Alternatively, the ten states where citizens paid the most in state and local taxes relative to per capita income were New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine and Pennsylvania, seven of which are presided over by predominately Democratic state legislatures. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has overturned a ruinous trend by reducing taxes in a state where they had previously been raised 115 times under the former administration. He also balanced the government budget three times in a row after inheriting an $11 billion deficit.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has reduced taxes six times and recently implemented the most significant income tax cut in the state's history. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback also proposed a major overhaul of the state's tax system that lowered tax rates for both individuals and businesses by enacting the biggest income tax reduction in the state's history, which reduced the rate from 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent. Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman also reduced income tax rates while Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam eliminated gift and estate taxes and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer enacted a historic capital gains tax cut. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley recently signed into law a resolution that would lower the income tax rate for small businesses by two percent over the next three years while Texas Gov. Rick Perry similarly reduced taxes for individuals and businesses alike. The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association released a report indicating that the state's small businesses, defined as those making less than $1 million in revenue, witnessed a significant tax reduction of over 46 percent. Republican governors have successfully balanced budgets, controlled spending, maintained lower tax rates, enacted collective bargaining reform, and decreased bureaucracy.
Not only have Republicans produced lower unemployment rates and tax reductions, but they have established business-friendly environments that have enhanced state economies and job growth as well. Seven of the 10 states featured in CNBC's 'America's Top State for Business' survey have both Republican governors and legislatures; whereas, six of the 10 states that are the least business-friendly are presided over by Democratic governors and legislatures. Furthermore, 12 of the 15 states that have been ranked 'best for business' are administered by Republican governors. In fact, the Chief Executive's annual survey of the 'Best and Worst States' in which to do business ranks every single "right-to-work" state in the top half of the list. States with no income-tax, such as Texas and Florida, are at the top of the list, followed by North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, and Virginia. The bottom of the list is occupied by Democratic states, such as Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, and California, where spending and debt is increasing, unemployment rates are high, tax burdens are heavy, and collective bargaining isn't regulated.
This should surprise no one, especially considering that Republican governors have inspired a revolution of corporate tax reform. For the third time in five years, Texas is the most accommodating state for business. As a result of Gov. Rick Perry's free-market economic reforms, Texas leads the nation in job creation with an increase of nearly 400,000 employment opportunities between May 2007 and May 2012. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder enacted the most significant of these corporate-tax reforms by replacing the state's gross-receipts tax with a low corporate income tax of 6 percent. Gov. Snyder's tax reform instantly placed Michigan in seventh place in the Tax Foundation's state corporate tax ranking -- a significant improvement from its position of 49th place prior to Gov. Snyder's election. Since early 2011, Michigan has significantly improved its credit rating and created almost 140,000 new jobs. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has endorsed similar policies by reducing the state's corporate income-tax and property taxes on business machinery and equipment. Gov. Scott ratified an amendment which eliminated the tax and administrative burden for approximately half of Florida's small businesses, thereby welcoming many new businesses to the state. South Carolina's Nikki Haley and the majority of other Republican governors are implementing equally impressive business-tax reforms. Whether it is lowering unemployment rates, reducing taxes, bringing more businesses to their states, or improving their states' economies, Republican governors have proven time and time again that they get the job done.
"Over the past 12 months, Republican governors have been making the tough choices necessary to provide certainty to job creators. Republican governors have closed massive budget deficits while holding the line on taxes, reined in unsustainable entitlements and seen their credit outlooks upgraded," said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, former Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. "As a result, businesses in Republican-led states have been able to overcome strong national economic headwinds to add jobs and drive down unemployment. [...] Simply put, the policy prescriptions and reforms of Republican governors are getting the job done."
There's a reason why Republicans are successful at the state and local level: The American people are witnessing the positive effects of a Republican administration and are predominately electing members of the party to state governorships, legislatures, and other institutions. In fact, there has not been one incumbent Republican governor that has lost his or her reelection bid since 2007. As a result of their achievements, Republicans are now presiding over 30 state governorships, the highest number for either party in over 12 years.
Republican governors have implemented strategies which have helped unemployed citizens attain jobs, balanced budgets without raising taxes, reduced the tax burden for many Americans, and established more business-friendly environments. They are results-oriented leaders who apply the conservative message in passionate and respectful ways, plan and implement specific courses of action, and achieve beneficial results without delay. Our Republican governors are not only preparing their party so that they can attain electoral victories at the national level, but they are doing what is best for our country, our civilians, and our future.
It's time that we appreciate them for their hard work, devotion, and commitment to our great nation.