Skip Navigation

State of the States: An Analysis of the 2016 Governors’ Addresses

August 11, 2016
By Ted Lafferty, Jonathan Williams, Kati Siconolfi, Joe Horvath

This study, published by the American Legislative Exchange Council examines the yearly “State of the State” speeches given by all 50 state governors,to analyze trends in stated policy goals.

vote pins

This study, published by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonpartisan thinktank dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism, examines the yearly “State of the State” speeches given by all 50 state governors, to analyze trends in stated policy goals.

Many governors are focusing on tax relief, the report’s authors write, continuing a trend seen in 2015.

“A number of different trends and priorities regarding economic policy were observed when reviewing these addresses,” the authors write. “Following a similar trend observed in the majority of 2015 State of the State addresses, many governors focused a considerable portion of their addresses on the issue of tax relief. For the second year in a row, more governors proposed reducing taxes to facilitate economic growth than governors who proposed increasing taxes.”

Taxation should be used to raise money for government’s core functions, and not to influence consumers’ behavior or paper over lawmakers’ budgeting mistakes, the authors write.

 “The proper function of taxation is to raise money for core functions of government, not to direct the behavior of citizens or close budget gaps created by overspending,” the authors write. “This is true regardless of whether government is big or small, and this is true for lawmakers at all levels of government. Taxation will always impose some level of burden on an economy’s performance, but that harm can be minimized if policymakers resist the temptation to use the tax code for social engineering, class warfare and other extraneous purposes. A principled tax system is an ideal way for advancing a state’s economic interests and promoting prosperity for its residents. The goal of American tax policy should be to raise revenue for functions of government in a way that minimizes distortions, so as to grow the overall economy and facilitate commerce.”

Related Publications View All