Today marks 100 days since the last of the country’s new majority of Republican governors took office. Already, these 18 new governors have made a profound impact on their states as well as the nation at-large.
They have proven that true reform can occur despite opposition from well-funded, powerful interests and have shown Washington that not only can deep-holed budgets be balanced without raising taxes, but that it is possible to implement entitlement reform and restructure government’s long-term costs and succeed. From education reform to fiscal and government reform, Republican governors are providing unparalleled political leadership.
Below is a list of the new governors’ major initiatives and successes in their first 100 days:
Gov. Robert Bentley (AL)
- Signed the Responsible Budgeting and Spending Act which revises the budgeting process for the Education Trust Fund by allowing a “rolling reserve” process to make the Education Trust Fund resistant to proration.
- Working to implement health insurance exchanges that will increase competition and lower costs.
Gov. Rick Scott (FL)
- Rejected federal high speed rail proposal.
- Instead announced support of meaningful infrastructure projects like the dredging of the Port of Miami – a project that will help create 33,000 jobs – to accommodate Post Panamax ships and increased shipping that will result when the Panama Canal is expanded and free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama are ratified.
- Signed an executive order to freeze job-killing regulations and establish the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform to review all new rules.
- This office has already identified more than 1000 unnecessary regulations that can be repealed.
- Signed the Student Success Act into law, establishing a system to pay the best teachers more and eliminate teacher tenure for new teachers.
- Created a Drug Strike Force to attack illegal use of prescription drugs by targeting criminal distributors.
- Sold state-owned aircraft to reduce unnecessary state spending – one of the Governor’s campaign promises
- Job Creation: through Gov. Scott’s commitment to reduce the size, scope and cost of government, as well as return savings to taxpayers through tax cuts, the Governor has enticed companies like Bing Energy and Chromalloy to move operations to Florida and companies like Vision Airlines to expand business in the Sunshine State.
Gov. Nathan Deal (GA)
- Signed an overhaul of the state’s cash-strapped HOPE scholarship into law, which assists students with their educational costs of attending college in Georgia.
- Passed an $18.3 billion budget without controversy.
- Earmarked $32 million in bond money for water infrastructure projects.
- Improved accessibility, holding regular legislative office hours for lawmakers.
Governor Terry Branstad (IA)
- Restored openness in state government:
- Launched a weekly video “Ask the Gov” Question and Answer series
- Revived weekly press conference after previous administrations abolished it
- Webcast live every weekly news conference
- Launched the “Call Gov. Branstad” show on WHO Radio
- Opening Iowa back up for business
- Signed an executive order rescinding burdensome RICE rule
- Announced new businesses bringing hundreds of jobs to Iowa, including Alltech, Cargill and Valent BioSciences Corporation.
- Signed an executive order requiring a Jobs Impact Statement for every proposed rule so as to know exactly the ramifications contained therein.
- Improving the state’s finances:
- Gov. Branstad insists on a biennial budget that balances with five-year revenue projections and spends less than Iowa takes in each year.
Gov. Sam Brownback (KS)
- Sweeping reform of state agencies to find efficiencies, reduce burdensome regulation and focus on the core functions of state government.
- Established Office of the Repealer to review state laws and regulations and identify those which are unreasonable, unduly burdensome, duplicative, or contradictory.
- Created Citizens Regulatory Review Board to review new rules and regulations proposed by state agencies and provide the Governor with feedback on any concerns raised by its review.
- Eliminated, streamlined and/or re-organized seven state agencies.
- Streamlined state human resources and homeland security, ensuring efficiency, uniformity and cost-effectiveness for state government agencies and cuts overhead costs.
- Established Rural Opportunity Zones:
- Designated 50 counties as “Rural Opportunity Zones” (ROZ), providing an income tax exemption for certain out-of-state taxpayers who relocate to those counties; and authorizing the counties to participate in a state-matching program to repay student loans of up to $15,000 for college graduates who move to ROZ counties.
Gov. Paul LePage (ME)
- Expedited state repayments of a Medicaid debt to hospitals.
- Agreed to allow the Maine Educational Loan Authority (MELA) to proceed with issuance of tax-exempt student loan revenue bonds to fund student loans for the upcoming academic year.
- Worked to remove unnecessary regulation, which will ease the burden on working families.
Gov. Rick Snyder (MI)
- Fundamentally realigning the state’s tax structure to encourage investment and job creation.
- Put in place tools to help the state and local governments reduce long-term costs.
- Produced a budget plan that would cut taxes on businesses by more than $1.5 billion – including the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax.
Gov. Susanna Martinez (NM)
- Balanced the budget:
- Governor Susana Martinez balanced a nearly-half billion dollar deficit she inherited upon taking office without raising taxes.
- Governor Martinez’s balanced budget cut unnecessary spending, allowing an increase in state funding levels for top priorities like public education and healthcare for the most vulnerable citizens.
- Education reform:
- Governor Martinez worked with a bi-partisan group of legislators to pass a new school evaluation system with overwhelming support. New Mexico schools will now be graded on an easy-to-understand A-F scale, allowing parents to know how well their schools are serving their children and taxpayers to know how effectively their tax dollars are spent. This legislation will also speed up the process of assisting failing schools by targeting resources and providing additional help to struggling students.
- Katie’s Law:
- This legislation will require a DNA sample from anyone arrested for a felony crime in New Mexico. New Mexico now has one of the strongest versions of Katie’s Law in the country, giving law enforcement one of the best available tools to prevent crimes, convict criminals, and exonerate the innocent.
- Governor Martinez originally championed this legislation as a district attorney in 2006, but the bill that eventually passed only required a sample to be taken for certain violent felony arrests.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple (ND)
- Proposed budget includes cutting property and income taxes by $500 million and unprecedented investments in infrastructure without borrowing money, while continuing to build the state’s reserves to more than $1 billion.
- Signed into law HB 1013, providing $100 million to help communities in North Dakota’s oil and gas counties offset direct impacts created by the rapidly developing energy industry.
Gov. Brian Sandoval (NV)
- Balanced the budget in the most challenging time in modern Nevada history.
- Introduced comprehensive education reform package.
- Improving government transparency and accessibility.
Gov. John Kasich (OH)
- Senate Bill 5 levels the playing field between taxpayers and the government workers who serve them, while maintaining government employees‘ ability to collectively bargain on wages and working conditions.
- Governor Kasich’s Jobs Budget would balance an $8 billion deficit while preserving an $800 million tax cut for Ohio families.
- JobsOhio was established through House Bill 1 and is a non-profit economic development corporation that will work more effectively than Ohio’s current state-centered efforts to retain and attract businesses. JobsOhio will be managed by a board of directors who are leaders in the business world, and because it is not a government entity, it will move at the speed of the market rather than at the speed of statute.
- Saving Jobs: Companies with major Ohio presences like American Greetings, Bob Evans, Diebold and Goodyear have committed to remaining in the state – preserving 5,500 jobs – and the unemployment rate has dropped below 9 percent for the first time in two years.
- Common Sense Initiative (CSI): Led by Lt. Gov. Taylor, is already eliminating undue burdens on business and helping Ohio companies grow and thrive.
- Statewide Coordination in the Fight Against Opiate Abuse: Through the new Cabinet-level Opiate Task Force will direct addiction prevention efforts across the state. The task force has already led to the raid of two pill mills where important evidence was collected that may assist in this effort.
Gov. Mary Fallin (OK)
- Delivered landmark, comprehensive lawsuit-reform legislation:
- By placing a hard cap of $350,000 on non-economic damages and pursuing other common-sense legal reforms, Governor Fallin has helped to ensure that our legal system is fair to plaintiffs and victims without the kind of “jackpot justice” that drives jobs out of state.
- Cut Taxes:
- Allowed the income tax trigger to take place, cutting income taxes in Oklahoma by roughly $120 million annually for businesses and individuals.
- Brought more accountability to public schools:
- Governor Fallin signed into law important legislation empowering the state superintendent and eliminating “trial de novo,” a costly legal appeals process that makes it nearly impossible to terminate ineffective teachers.
- Continued the fight against ObamaCare and federal overreach:
- The governor worked with Attorney General Scott Pruitt to ensure that the state of Oklahoma joined other states in challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care bill.
- She has also agreed to refuse $54 billion in federal funds to ensure that Oklahoma cannot be tied to ObamaCare.
Gov. Tom Corbett (PA)
- Advocating For a Responsible Budget:
- When Gov. Corbett came into office in January, Pennsylvania was faced with a $4.3 billion dollar deficit. His budget eliminates the deficit without raising taxes by reducing the cost of government.
- The Fair Share Act:
- Will end abusive and frivolous civil lawsuits that target parties with “deep pockets” instead of the defendants who are most culpable.
- Has passed the House and is making its way through the Senate.
- The measure will improve Pennsylvania’s economic climate and competitiveness.
- Pushing for education reform:
- Gov. Corbett’s plan includes school choice, merit pay, local property tax reform and giving school districts the ability to furlough employees when economic conditions make it necessary.
Gov. Nikki Haley (SC)
- Passed legislation that put more House and Senate votes on the record.
- Took taxpayer cash away from the state’s public television and arts operations.
- Set in motion plans to deal with a soaring deficit in Medicaid programs and to restructure state government.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard (SD)
- Signed a balanced budget that completely eliminated the state’s structural deficit without raising taxes or using one-time money.
- Proposed and signed package of bills to increase state incentives for economic development.
Gov. Bill Haslam (TN)
- Teacher tenure reform:
- Changed probationary period from three to five years.
- Included performance evaluations in tenure review.
- Gave principals flexibility to keep teachers beyond five year period but not grant tenure.
- Jobs4TN economic development strategy
- Regionalized strategies and created target industry clusters where Tennessee already has a clear competitive advantage.
- Created ECD field director positions to be the region’s ‘ombudsman’ for businesses.
- Put focus more on turning Tennessee-based intellectual property from research hubs such as ORNL, St. Jude and Vanderbilt into Tennessee jobs.
- Restructured the Economic and Community Development office.
- Budget proposal — $1.8 billion less than previous years while still maintaining essential services.
Gov. Scott Walker (WI)
- 24,000 private sector jobs created, including 8,200 manufacturing jobs.
- Eliminated state taxes on Health Savings Accounts.
- Reformed Wisconsin’s litigation climate.
- Signed relocation and economic development tax credit legislation.
- Providing tax relief for Wisconsin’s job creators: small businesses.
- Transforming the Department of Commerce into the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
- Enacted supermajority for passage of tax increase legislation.
- Right-sizing state government with modest requests on state pension, health care.
- Balancing Wisconsin’s FY 2011 Budget.
- Proposed budget that balances $3.6 billion deficit and reduces the structural deficit to lowest point in recent history.
- Introduced 3rd Grade Reading Taskforce to make sure every Wisconsin 3rd grader can read at grade level.
- Aggressively marketed Wisconsin as “Open for Business” after massive Illinois tax increase.
Gov. Matt Mead (WY)
- Began streamlining state government:
- Governor Mead and the Republican Legislature combined two state agencies into a single agency.
- Governor Mead cut salaries in his Office.
- Reviewing all existing executive orders going back decades to remove any that are unnecessary or irrelevant.
- Finished the legislative session while continuing to maintain a surplus and put money into savings.
- Successfully advocated for job creating initiatives that could bring new industries to Wyoming like data centers.
- Kept a tax exemption in place for manufacturers.
- Shortly after signing that bill a new employer (Worthing Gestamp) announced they would build a wind tower manufacturing facility in Wyoming.