West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (Photo: Brian Baer/Newscom)

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin received an “A” from Cato. (Newscom)

The Cato Institute released its ninth biennial fiscal report card on the nation’s governors yesterday, and topping the list with “A” grade were Charlie Crist of Florida, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Cato grades the governors based on data from their taxing and spending records.

Republican governors, on average, received slightly higher grades than Democratic governors. More importantly, there has been a disappointing lack of major spending reforms among governors of both parties in recent years. State tax policies have also been uninspiring. Most tax cuts pursued by the governors have been small and targeted breaks, not broad-based rate cuts that can foster economic growth.

The report’s author, Chris Edwards, director of tax-policy studies at Cato, said governors will have to improve their fiscal policies if their states are going to grapple with the huge challenges on the horizon. The complete report card is available as a PDF or webpage.