As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have been very busy working on the state budget for the last six weeks. The Minority party members of Appropriations crafted a budget plan that relies on level funding the budget based on last year's spending. This is a reasonable and level headed plan that balances the budget without raising taxes or shifting expenses to the counties. Our plan would cut over $1 billion in increased spending from the governor's proposed plan.
By level funding the state budget, we will protect our citizens against tax increases in these continued tough economic times. Data shows that Maryland families, taxpayers and small business income have not increased while the state budget has grown a whopping 21 percent over the last seven years.
This steady increase comes as Maryland's families are struggling, many making less than they did a few years ago (citing a report produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis). Personal income in Maryland is not growing, our citizens are worried about how to put gas in their cars and food on the table. How can we ask them to pay more? The truth is we cannot and that's why the Republican budget alternative doesn't increase spending or impose additional taxes.
In fact the Republican budget protects education, fire, safety and health programs and rejects lay-offs. State agencies will have to operate with the same amount of funds they received last year. Family and small business budgets are flat or declining. Government can and should live within its means just like our citizens do.
Historically the O'Malley-Brown Administration has supported its spending habits on the backs of taxpayers and by relying on federal stimulus money. Now that the federal subsidies are being cut back, state taxpayers are left paying for the widespread increases. This year alone the General Assembly has been asked to consider an income tax increase, an enormous expansion of the sales tax into many service industries, an Internet tax, a gas tax and fee increases for boats and cars (that's just to name a few). These tax and fee increases will largely go to new projects and what I call the "Governors Wish List" including three new transit lines, a new sports arena, continuing the Grand Prix, along with an unaffordable off-shore wind energy project. We all have needs and wants, but you and I are trying to have our needs met while putting off things we might want. Now is not the time for wish list items paid for taxpayers.
Earlier this year members of the Maryland Republican Caucus commissioned a poll by a leading Maryland pollster that showed 96 percent of Marylanders think they pay enough or too much in taxes. I am standing up for the 96 percent. People across our state are telling Annapolis it is time to put the brakes on the tax and spend mentality that's gotten us into this mess.
By holding the line on government spending we protect our families, taxpayers, and small businesses from unaffordable higher taxes and fees.
Less spending equals a brighter future for Maryland and we know that level funding is a level headed approach.
Please feel free to contact me any time in Annapolis at 410-841-3698 or Kathy.Szeliga@house.state.md.us. It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Annapolis.
Del. Kathy Szeliga
Western Harford-Eastern Baltimore counties