Republican governors meeting in Washington this weekend said financial conditions in their states have deteriorated so much that they must raise taxes, even if it means crossing their own party.
In the face of a historical antipathy deepened by the tea party movement, chief executives in Alabama, Nevada and Michigan among other states are proposing increases this year to address shortfalls or to spend more on faltering schools and infrastructure. They advocate higher levies on businesses, tobacco, alcohol and gasoline, in some cases casting the increases as user fees.
The governors are at a crossroads. They are choosing between the path of Gov. Sam Brownback in Kansas, who has refused to change course even after tax cuts provoked furious opposition, and that of Alabama’s Robert Bentley, who has said the state’s perennially precarious budget has reached the breaking point.
“I don’t want to raise taxes, but I also know that we need to pay our debts,” Bentley said in an interview. “We don’t have any choice.”