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Crist gets a 'D' from anti-tax group

The Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, has slapped Gov. Charlie Crist with a 'D' in its annual gubernatorial report card. Crist has repeatedly touted his 'A' grade from the group in 2008.

But since then, the governor has switched fiscal gears and supported large tax increases on Floridians. Crist signed into law a $2.2 billion increase in 2009, which included a $1 per pack increase on cigarette consumers and more than $1 billion in new "fees" for vehicle licenses, fishing licenses, and other items. Then, exhibiting amnesia, Crist declared in his 2010 State of the State address: "My core principle is to not raise taxes." Crist continues to support property tax relief, but it is not clear that such relief would lead tolower taxes overall. A proposed "tax swap" in 2008 would have reduced local property taxes but increased state-level taxes by perhaps a greater amount.

That "tax swap" was spearheaded by none other than Crist's Republican rival for the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio (and was belatedly backed by Crist after a flip-flop.) The Rubio campaign left that part out of its press release mocking the governor's falling grade.

It's also worth noting that Republican standard bearers like Senate President Jeff Atwater -- the GOP nominee for chief financial officer -- and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos signed off on the aforementioned budget.