The 10 Scariest GOP Governors: Bringing a Radical Right-Wing Agenda To a State Near You
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Like in Ohio, a deeply unpopular GOP governor in Florida could be the key to Barack Obama's reelection. Democratic strategists credit anger at Scott for surprise victories in mayor's races, and hope the anger will still be there in 2012.
3. Rick Snyder, Michigan. Michigan has given us one of the most frightening power grabs in a year of power grabs. Snyder's “emergency manager” legislation gives him the power to appoint a unilateral authority over a city or school district, who can then fire officials, close schools, void union contracts, and otherwise assume near-total control.
In March, the Michigan legislature passed an update to state law that gave “emergency financial managers” expanded powers over cities and school districts facing financial distress. The provision drew protests immediately, with thousands converging on the Capitol on March 16, the day the law was signed. Unions and community organizations recognized the law as a threat, not just in the cities where emergency financial managers were imposed, but around the state, where unions would be pressured to make concessions in order to keep a financial manager from being imposed on them. Since financial managers have the power to wipe away a union contract with a pen stroke, the unions are left with an impossible choice—concede great chunks of hard-won benefits and wages, or risk losing it all.
That would be enough to land Snyder near the top of this list, except of course it's not all. Snyder eliminated the Michigan Business Tax and replaced it with a flat tax of just 6 percent for corporations, which essentially handed them a $1.8 billion tax cut. To pay for that cut, he cut education spending and of course public workers—and then eliminated the exemption that allows senior citizens not to pay taxes on their pension income. Yes, he taxed old people and cut funding from children to lower the corporate income tax rate.
Of course there are anti-choice bills moving in Michigan, as well as anti-immigrant legislation, and swipes at domestic partner benefits for university employees. But the “emergency manager” law is a unique accomplishment for Snyder, one that warrants the recall campaign against him.
2. Chris Christie, New Jersey. Chris Christie seems to have watched a few too many episodes of "The Sopranos." The New Jersey governor relies on bluster and swagger, taking shots at teachers and legislators and engaging in a very public name-calling match with the very same Democratic State Senate president who helped him pass what has been called the worst anti-union bill in the country. He's made himself a YouTube star, prompting cheers from the right and sending chills up the spine of the left, who fear Christie on a national level.
Christie was the advance guard for the class of 2010, knocking out former Governor John Corzine in 2009 amid cheers from the Tea Party and shivers from Democrats, who were sure this guy couldn't possibly win in New Jersey. He could, and he did, and even though 51 percent of voters now say they'd support someone else, the damage has been done. He's pulled money out of renewable energy and cut $820 million from education budgets—a move ruled unconstitutional because it “fell more heavily upon our high risk districts and the children educated within those districts.”
The reason his former buddy Steve Sweeney is so angry with Christie? After cutting a deal with the Democrats for the anti-union law, Christie used his line-item veto to slash programs Democrats had bargained for:
He mowed down a series of Democratic add-ons, including $45 million in tax credits for the working poor, $9 million in health care for the working poor, $8 million for women’s health care, another $8 million in AIDS funding and $9 million in mental-health services. But the governor added $150 million in school aid for the suburbs, including the wealthiest towns in the state. That is enough to restore all the cuts just listed.
No wonder Sweeney called him a “mean old bastard.”