Mitt Romney is running for United States President. You might have heard that.
Mr Romney is saying that, while governor of Massachusetts, he “closed a nearly $3 billion budget deficit without raising taxes …”
I’m not sure that’s accurate.
Mr Romney’s numbers are off, by either $1.7 billion, or $2.2 billion.
First, a little history.
In January, 2003, Mitt Romney took office as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ 70th Governor.
In January, 2007, he stepped down.
When Mr Romney took office, in 2003, there was a projected $3 billion deficit in the fiscal 2004 state budget.
Projected is another word for “estimated”. Like, a guess.
By the time Mr Romney took office, in 2003, the Massachusetts legislature had already passed a law raising the capital gains tax which raised $1.3 billion. In addition, the Commonwealth received higher-than-expected federal grants, that year, bringing in an another $500 million. As a result of this, again, as a result of this, the actual budget deficit turned out to be $1.2 billion.
So, Mr Romney didn’t really “closed a nearly $3 billion budget deficit …”
It was a $1.2 billion budget deficit.
Mr Romney says that he closed a nearly $3 billion budget deficit “without raising taxes …”
Well, sort of. But, not really.
During his tenure, Mr Romney supported raising various fees by more than $300 million, including raising fees for driver’s licenses, marriage licenses, and gun licenses. These aren’t taxes, per se, I’ll grant you that, because, unless you drive, get married, or want to carry a gun, you aren’t affected. But, since the money went to the state instead of into your pocket, you could also make the case that they are really “taxes”.
In addition, Mr Romney increased the state gasoline tax by 2 cents per gallon, generating about $60 million per year in additional tax revenue.
Also, Mr Romney also closed tax loopholes in 2004 or 2005 that brought in another $181 million from businesses over the following two years.
But, yes, the rest of the “savings” were due to cuts in the state’s annual budgets, just as he says.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth’s job growth was anemic.
In January 2003, on the day Mr Romney took office, there were 3,225,000 people in the Massachusetts workforce (“nonfarm payrolls”, only).
In January 2007, on the day Mr Romney left office, there were 3,260,000 people in the Massachusetts workforce (“nonfarm payrolls”, only).
So, Mr Romney is accurate when he says that he was “creating jobs”, while Governor.
During his tenure, there was an increase of 1.77% in the number of people employed in the Commonwealth (his campaign says he created 57,000, whereas you only get 35,000 if you use data provided by the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce).
(FYI, over 1,000 of those additionally-employed were working for the state, and the state’s payroll increased by 5,000 between Mr Romney’s first budget and his last.)
During the latter half of 2007 that the Commonwealth’s unemployment rate was better than the overall US’ unemployment rate.
After Mr Romney had left office.
During Mr Romney’s time in office, Massachusetts’ increase in employment was “the third-lowest in the nation after Hurricane Katrina-hit Louisiana and Michigan.”
(In addition, during Mr Romney’s four years in office, 38,000 “manufacturing” jobs were lost.)
Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Also: Mitt Romney – Wikipedia.org
More: Mitt Romney’s economic record questioned – By Jason Szep, Reuters