The State of Maryland has gone through quite a lot lately but it is mostly self-inflicted, which gives its political problems something of a humorous quality.
At the last gubernatorial election in 2010 Maryland failed to elect Bob Ehrlich, the moderate Republican candidate for governor who had previously been governor, and instead decided to re-elect Martin O’Malley. Governor O’Malley is believed to have aspirations for higher office. Needless to say, Governor O’Malley is a liberal Democrat.
Maryland, having spent its transportation money on other things during the worst of the downturn, is now finding the transportation coffers dry. Somehow the liberals are all surprised by this. Having refused to belt tighten when it was necessary, the proposed budget now exceeds the available revenues.
The Governor, true to form, proposed tax increases. Several variations of income tax increases, raising the gasoline tax and applying the 6% sales tax to gasoline have been floated. This is just amazing; these guys really do not get it. Does the Governor not know that $4/gallon gasoline upsets people? Among the public (i.e. real people) there is actually pushback and the tax increases have not been adopted. Lacking the anticipated revenues from the tax increases the state’s proposed budget exceeded its revenues. Maryland, by Constitution, is required to balance its budget.
The Senate President, who is from Prince George’s County, at the last minute, introduced the idea of expanding casino gambling to Prince George’s County. That has not been a universally popular idea. As a result, the General Assembly came to gridlock and has not been able to adopt a budget before the session ended. This has led to what is being referred to as the “doomsday budget” where spending will be cut by about $500 million in order to not exceed the available revenues. Another way of looking at this is that they now have to reduce expenditures that should have been reduced several years ago. The Democrats, of course, are all trying to figure out how to raise more revenue. The idea of only spending the money you have seems not to be under serious consideration.
This is interesting. The liberals spent the transportation money on other things, want to raise taxes on both income and gasoline and are surprised that the public does not want higher taxes to pay for what it has already paid taxes for. Even though the gambling expansion has gone nowhere, given the way Maryland manages its finances I think gambling is already occurring, but in Maryland there is no way for the public to win.
Watching the Democrats all get their knickers in a twist is quite entertaining. Even in Maryland, which is on a par with Massachusetts for blueness, the left can melt down. I chuckled at the following quote from the Governor who somehow stumbled onto the truth:
“Well, we managed to do something to ourselves that the Republican caucus couldn’t do to us in five or six years,” O’Malley, who is in his second term, said on WAMU’s “Kojo Nnamdi Show,” which was hosted by Matt McCleskey.
I was somewhat surprised that the Governor even realized that they did this to themselves and that he would admit it publically. Fiscal responsibility, though, is not yet returning to Maryland as long as the politicians refuse to focus on spending cuts.
(In the interest of full disclosure I am a Virginia resident, safely perched in the People’s Republic of Fairfax County, far away from the likes of Steny Hoyer, Martin O’Malley and Barbara Mikulski).