The libertarian Cato Institute, which champions tax reform and spending restraint, gives Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin high marks in its “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors 2012.”
Fallin got a B and a tie ranking for 17th-best governor in the nation. Part of Fallin's grade is due to a quarter-point income tax rate reduction approved before her term. Cato gives her credit for not opposing the tax cut's implementation. It praises her ultimately unsuccessful effort to cut the state income tax from 5.25 percent to 3.5 percent this year. Fallin also gets credit for pension reforms that lowered the state's unfunded liability by billions of dollars.
However, Fallin's overall grade was harmed by her support of a hospital provider fee to fund Medicaid in 2011, which Cato labels a “hospital tax.” Under Fallin, Cato reports that per capita spending has increased 3.3 percent, less than the national average of 3.6 percent.
To the degree the public pays attention to such reports, Fallin's ranking will probably have little impact on her approval rating, which is among the highest of the nation's 50 governors. Fallin's support of tax reductions and relatively tightfisted spending (at least in comparison to many other states) is in keeping with her 2010 campaign promises.