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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cato Institute grades Charlie Crist on fiscal policy: D



From the libertarian Cato Institute's latest fiscal policy report card for governors:

In the 2008 Cato report card, Governor Crist received an "A" based on his support of prop-
erty tax cuts and spending restraint. But since then, the governor has switched fiscal gears and
supported large tax increases on Floridians. Crist signed into law a $2.2 billion increase in
2009, which included a $1 per pack increase on cigarette consumers and more than $1 billion
in new "fees" for vehicle licenses, fishing licenses, and other items. Then, exhibiting amnesia,
Crist declared in his 2010 State of the State address: "My core principle is to not raise taxes."
Crist continues to support property tax relief, but it is not clear that such relief would lead to
lower taxes overall. A proposed "tax swap" in 2008 would have reduced local property taxes
but increased state-level taxes by perhaps a greater amount.
This report does not consider Governor Crist's troubling fiscal actions with regard to the
state's property insurance system. The actions of the governor have helped create a system
that keeps insurance rates far below the market level, causing an exodus of private insurers,
and leaving a government agency--the Florida Citizens Property Insurance Corporation--as
the largest homeowners' insurer in the state. Crist has also helped expand a massively under-
funded government hurricane reinsurance fund, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.
Following a major hurricane or series of hurricanes, claims to the fund could be tens of bil-
lions of dollars more than available assets, and taxpayers would probably have to foot a huge
bailout bill. Crist has repeatedly opposed bills that would improve the actuarial soundness of
the state's insurance system.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 5:32pm]


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