That study, our fourth biennial report card, presents an objective, comparative analysis of the spending and tax policies of America’s governors from the taxpayers’ perspective. Governors who have cut spending and taxes the most get the highest grades; governors who have raised spending and taxes the most get the lowest grades.
Parris Glendening won the governor’s office in 1994, beating tax‐cutter Ellen Sauerbrey by a whisker in an election marred by charges of widespread vote fraud in Baltimore. The Glendening paradox is that despite governing during times of high incumbent popularity, he has never won the hearts of Marylanders. His poll ratings have consistently sagged below 40 percent, and some pollsters have panned Glendening as the least popular governor in America.
That is partly a reflection of the technocratic Glendening’s utter lack of personal charm, partly due to a seemingly aimless policy agenda, and partly a result of a state economy that has consistently underperformed the rest of the nation in the 1990s. From 1990 to 1997 Maryland ranked 46th in per capita income growth and 38th in job growth.
To his credit, last year Glendening proposed a 10 percent income tax rate cut to be phased in over five years, arguing correctly that “a tax cut is the single most effective policy to bring jobs back to Maryland.” The plan passed, but no one was particularly pleased. Republicans still want a 25 percent tax cut, and many liberal Democrats, who have a decades‐long stranglehold on the state legislature, wanted to spend the money instead.