- After rebuilding Mississippi's rainy-day fund, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour fought his state Legislature's urge to spend that fund right away to balance the state budget. Instead, he's planning ahead by spreading the fund over four years and making serious budget cuts. His positive approval rating is 63 percent, including 62 percent with independents and 36 percent with blacks.
- Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels turned $700 million in red ink into a $1 billion surplus, and when revenues were projected further downward, his response was to continue cutting rather than raising taxes. He explained his budget success to the Wall Street Journal recently: "The answer is that we spent less money than we took in." How's that for straight shooting? Mr. Daniels was re-elected by 18 percentage points in 2008, notably winning nearly 60 percent of independents' votes. His job approval is at 69 percent.
- Gov. Rick Perry achieved balance in the Texas 2010 budget through cuts in general revenue spending of $1.6 billion - millions of which were achieved with the governor's line-item veto. His 2010 budget also contains tax cuts for tens of thousands of small-business owners - a popular move for an influential, jobs-creating constituency. When Texas sales-tax revenues were projected recently to be significantly down, Mr. Perry said he is looking to cut rather than raise taxes to compensate for any sales-tax shortfall. Fifty-seven percent of Texans approve of Mr. Perry's performance as governor.
- Gov. Linda Lingle plans to close a $1.23 billion revenue shortfall in Hawaii for the two-year budget cycle of 2009-2011 and already vetoed 10 bills in 2009 that would have increased the budget shortfall. She has a 51 percent favorable rating in one of the nation's bluest states.
Voters are smarter than many give them credit for. Give them what they deserve - a leaner, more efficiently run government.