The three former or current governors who are running for president—Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Jon Huntsman of Utah and Rick Perry of Texas—did not alter the tax rate for high-income earners while in the governor's mansion.
At the Iowa State Fair Thursday, Mitt Romney reiterated his policy of not raising taxes. He got into a heated exchange over the issue after an audience member demanded to know how Romney was going to preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
"I'm not going to raise taxes. That's my answer," Romney said. "And if you want somebody who is going to raise taxes you can vote for Barack Obama."
Throughout his time as governor, Romney oversaw a slight decrease in income tax, from 5.6 percent when he took office in 2003 to 5.3 percent by the time he left in 2007.
Massachusetts residents have historically had a one of the highest tax burdens in the country, consistently ranking in the top 10 states, said Joseph Henchman, the vice president of state projects for the Tax Foundation. When Romney was in office the state dropped out of the top 10, falling from having the eighth-highest tax burden in 2005 to the 13th highest in 2006.
Rick Perry, who announced Saturday that his is running for president, is the longest-serving governor of a state that levies no personal income tax.
At a fundraiser for Missouri Republican Gubernatorial candidate Peter Kinder in June, Perry said all states should mirror Texas and abolish personal income taxes.
"There is a reason that Missouri is not as competitive as it should be. Want me to tell you what it is? It's called an income tax. A personal income tax. You've got one and we don't! You get rid of your personal income tax and then you can come compete with us," Perry said.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman revamped the entire state tax code when he was in office from 2005 to 2009. He swapped a more complex six-bracket tax system for a flat 5 percent income tax.