Six Republican Governors Who Are Ready to Raise Taxes

Even as Republicans in Congress condemn new taxes, GOP governors from Ohio to Kansas are considering raising them.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder visits the Denso display to talk about Michigan and automatic vehicle technology at the press preview of the 2014 North American International Auto Show January 14, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Republicans in Congress aren't happy about the new taxes that President Barack Obama proposed in his budget on Monday. House Speaker John Boehner said Americans "can't afford a repeat" of tax increases and new spending. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the budget "another top-down, backward-looking document."

But at the state level, the story is different. Stung by slowing revenue streams, a few Republican governors, led by Sam Brownback of Kansas and John Kasich of Ohio, have gone so far as to propose their own tax hikes. And they're not alone.

Brownback's plan, in particular, comes as a reversal. He had cut income taxes in previous years, resulting in a budget shortfall that almost cost him reelection. Now, he has called for measures that would slow down the income-tax cuts while increasing taxes on cigarettes. The hike would raise nearly $400 million over two years as a way to address this year's $710 million shortfall, according to the Associated Press.

In Ohio on Monday, Kasich, who may run for president in 2016, detailed a plan to cut income taxes and offset them with increased taxes on sales, cigarettes, and fracking. Voters have already rejected a smaller cigarette tax, though, and the sales tax proposal has mobilized the opposition of business groups, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Governor Brian Sandoval attends a news conference in Carson City, Nev., on Sept. 4, 2014.

Governor Brian Sandoval attends a news conference in Carson City, Nev., on Sept. 4, 2014.

Photographer: David Calvert/Bloomberg

In some ways, the most un-Republican plan may come from Nevada, even though it's a state where Tea Party sentiment runs deep. Governor Brian Sandoval, who received 70 percent of the vote in 2014, not only wants to make some temporary taxes permanent but would replace a flat business-licensing fee with a graduated one based on revenue, according to the Los Angeles Times. It might be an uphill battle for Sandoval, who has been mentioned as a vice presidential candidate, as the proposal has angered some Republicans in the legislature and echoes one that nearly 80 percent of voters rejected in November. Sandoval aims to raise the $1.1 billion to invest in education.

In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder wants to raise $1.2 billion for infrastructure through gas taxes. "We're putting plywood up underneath a number of bridges to keep crumbling concrete from falling on vehicles," Snyder told All Things Considered. The measure, which Snyder has called "common sense," received the two-thirds majority needed in the legislature to head to the voters as a ballot initiative, according to the Detroit News.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert "has increased the tobacco tax, proposed extending it to e-cigarettes and said he was open to an increase in the gasoline tax," according to the New York Times. He's aiming to raise $10 million with the tax in a state where tobacco products are already heavily taxed, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.

And South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard wants to raise taxes every year to pay for road repairs, according to the Rapid City Journal. His plan would institute a tax of 2 cents per gallon that would automatically increase every year to keep up with inflation unless the measure is repealed. Daugaard is seeking to raise $50 million with the plan.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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