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The piece sent "over the transom" taking a shot at Governor Johnson's possible motives for running as a Libertarian contains some interesting theories.
However, it also contains some disturbing claimed facts, and one thing I did do before publishing that piece was check them.
Unfortunately the facts cited are correct and Gary is being less-than-honest.
This is what his campaign web site claims on his record:
- Left office with New Mexico as one of the only four states in the country with a balanced budget
- Left New Mexico with a budget surplus
- Used Line Item Veto thousands of times to trim the budget
- Vetoed 750 bills during his time in office; more than all other governors combined
- Cut over 1,200 government jobs without firing anyone
- Created more than 20,000 new jobs
- First New Mexico Governor to challenge education status quo and propose statewide voucher program
- Restored State General Fund reserves to more than $222 million from a low of $28.1 million
- Limited annual state budget growth to 5.0% during eight years in office
- Cut taxes 14 times while never raising them—a first for New Mexico
- Vetoed 32% of the total number of bills submitted for his signature
This all sounds good, right?
Well, no. Yes, the budget rose 5% per year during his time in office. Unfortunately that's a roughly 50% increase in the size of the State Government during those eight years.
That might be ok if the rate of increase was less than the rate of inflation. So let's check the rate of inflation and see if Governor Johnson was telling the truth or if he's being less-than-honest with the public.
In 1995 the CPI index stood at 150.3. In 2003 when Johnson left office it stood at 181.7. That's a 20.9% increase over the same eight years.
In other words Gary Johnson increased spending in New Mexico at approximately 240% the rate of inflation -- or about double and a half as fast as prices rose.
Do you define that as "fiscally conservative" or "responsible"? I do not. Further, can you find any part of spending in this chart that he actually cut during his time in office or did every single one of these bars get bigger?
Then there's the claim of a "balanced budget". That's a nice claim. Unfortunately it was achieved by lying, just as it has been in the other states, because the amount of debt the State Government had outstanding nearly doubled during those very same years.
That's a gross $2.78 billion increase in debt during those years. The population of the state was (as of 2003) 1.87 million, so Governor Johnson added about $1,500 in debt to the financial responsibility of every man, woman and child in New Mexico during his administration and that's only for the state itself -- municipal governments added another billion, so the total was well over $2,000 per person.
Is that "fiscally conservative"?
Ron Paul has often been called "Dr. No" for his refusal to accede to more spending and bigger deficits. While he's one man in Congress, you can rarely if ever find a bill that he has approved which increases spending and public debt.
Gary Johnson, on the other hand, was the man with the pen who signed the spending bills in the end analysis. He is the one who was responsible for approval of the budget and the actual spending and borrowing profile of the State. And he has repeatedly claimed, and claims today, a huge number of vetoes.
It's true that Governor Johnson vetoed a huge number of bills. But the implication he wishes you to believe, that he shrunk the size of government in New Mexico and thus that he also shrunk residents' responsibility, both directly in current government spending and in the debt that was left for both residents who voted for various policies and the children and unborn unable to vote for or against those policies is simply false.
Governor, you have some explaining to do if you expect me to support or vote for you, as I believe you have actively and intentionally misled not only myself personally but the Libertarian Party in general on the actual facts when it comes to your spending and debt record as Governor.
Nobody should vote for this man believing he will cut their debt load or actually shrink one single line item in the Federal Budget, as his history shows that over eight years as Governor of a small state he saddled every single resident with more than $1,500 worth of additional debt, sanctioned municipal and local governments adding roughly $1,000 more, and in fact added to State Spending in all of the categories he claims he will "control" or "cut" including pensions, health care and education.
Not one of those areas was cut in size during his time in office.
And that, my friends, is a fact.
Ps: Before someone pipes up and tries to claim that population increases were responsible for this, the population of New Mexico in 1995 was ~1.7 million. In 2003 it was 1.9 million, or 12% higher, an approximately 1.4% annual expansion. It is thus immaterial to the expansion of the State budget and debt, and one cannot lay off these expansions on "growing population"; any such attempted claim is a futher lie.