Earlier this week, the CATO Institute, a Koch-founded think tank, issued its 2014 “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.” Given the organization’s close ties to the billionaire brothers, it’s of little surprise that the report card issued “A” ratings to a handful of Republican governors who have implemented the Kochs’ self-serving agenda in their states and “F” ratings to eight governors, all Democrats who prioritize support for working families.
High atop CATO’s “A” list is Pat McCrory, the governor of North Carolina and reckless steward of what the Kochs’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity, lovingly refers to as their “model state.” He has implemented an extreme conservative agenda, dictated by the Koch brothers and one of their top lieutenants, Art Pope, who only recently stepped down from his lofty position as budget director in McCrory’s cabinet. In giving McCrory a top score, CATO cites a tax package he signed into law, which slashed income taxes for the state’s wealthiest citizens, reducing state revenue by at least $500 million and resulting in cuts to funding for education and other services.
Tied in first place with McCrory is Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, the Kochs’ home state. Brownback, with the vocal support of Americans for Prosperity, has steered Kansas to the far-right by implementing a series of extreme measures straight out of the Koch playbook. Kansas has seen public education funding slashed under Brownback, as well as cuts to public jobs, yet the state’s wealthy elites have seen significant tax cuts, likely including the sons of Wichita themselves. Brownback now faces a battle for reelection, largely thanks to outrage against the disastrous, Koch-approved course he’s charted for the state.
Rounding out CATO’s “A” ratings are Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who is considered to be a potential Koch favorite in 2016, and Paul LePage of Maine, who has received the support of his state’s AFP chapter, despite his grave case of foot-in-mouth disease. Considering that all of its top honorees are lauded for implementing extreme, billionaire-friendly policies, CATO’s recent report card is yet another example of a think tank operating under the heavy influence of Koch.