Stimulus Checks From Governors A Common Thing This Re-Election Year

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Stimulus checks may not be a priority for the federal government, but for many governors, especially Democratic governors up for re-election, stimulus payments are on the top of their list. Such stimulus checks from governors are seen as a way to attract voters. It is not a secret that voters love direct stimulus checks, and the Change.org petition that has over 3 million signatures is good evidence of that.

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Stimulus Checks From Governors: What’s The Motive?

Several states have benefitted from unanticipated tax revenue due to the rapid economic rebound and windfalls fueled by pandemic-era federal relief checks. A recent report from the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) claims that half of the states will exceed their estimated revenue, while 17 states will meet their revenue projections for the current year.

Governors of many such states have already proposed or are in the process of sending direct stimulus checks to voters. For instance, Gov. Tony Evers (D) in Wisconsin has called on Republican legislators to approve $150 in stimulus checks for every resident. In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills (D) has proposed giving $500 checks to about 800,000 eligible taxpayers, while Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) has also proposed giving a one-time $250 tax rebate to residents who filed a tax return last year.

There are also governors who have proposed giving targeted payments. For instance, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) plans to use a $5 billion surplus in a state insurance fund to give drivers a $400 rebate to every vehicle they own. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is proposing a statewide cut in gross receipts taxes, while Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has proposed reducing property taxes for residents.

Many see California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) as a good example of how handing out stimulus checks can help with re-election efforts. Newsom, who approved stimulus checks for about two-thirds of Golden State residents, survived the recall attempt by a wide margin.

Why Is It A Good Policy?

It is very likely that these stimulus checks from governors will play a significant role in the campaign advertisements this year. Political experts believe giving stimulus checks is one of the best policies at a time when people desperately need economic support to counter rising inflation.

Giving stimulus checks is also a good policy because it won’t put any extra pressure on state finances. States are mainly using the extra cash they got from the federal government in relief payments, as well as the unanticipated tax revenue, to give out stimulus checks.

It is not just the Democratic governors that believe giving stimulus checks is an effective way to attract voters. Republicans have similar thinking as well, but rather than handing out direct payments, they are more in favor of indirect benefits, such as tax cuts.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), for instance, has lowered the state’s income tax this year, while Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is pushing to eliminate the income tax altogether. The Governors of Tennessee and Georgia have also proposed tax rebates or credits.