A recent article in The Sun noted Maryland's dismal position as last in the nation in terms of the number of jobs created. Of the words that came to my mind, "shocked" was not one of them. Throughout my 2010 campaign for the office of state comptroller, I warned voters of this exact situation. The policies that have been a mainstay in Annapolis for decades have driven Maryland into a state of economic ruin. (And, just for the record, both Democrats and Republicans are to blame.)
Throughout the campaign, I promoted a "Texas model" to spur economic growth here in Maryland. Depending on whose statistics you use, Texas has created between one third and one half of the new jobs in the United States since 2009. The economic growth in Texas wasn't the result some big Washington, D.C., bailout or stimulus; rather, it was the result of conservative, pro-growth economic policies, many of which have been put in place by Gov. Rick Perry, a potential Republican presidential candidate.
Tort reform has played a major role in Texas' recent economic success. First, in 2003, the folks in Texas tackled the issue of medical tort reform. Despite strong resistance from special interest groups representing trial lawyers, the Texas legislature found success. Since 2003, thousands of doctors have flocked to Texas, Texans have seen significant reductions in their health care costs, and hundreds of thousands of Texans now have the opportunity to attain affordable health insurance. Imagine what medical tort reform would do here in Maryland, where the medical industry makes up an important sector of our state's economy.
Tort reform in Texas didn't stop with medicine. In the 2011 legislative session, the Texas legislature passed what is known as "loser pays" tort reform. The legislation was championed as a model for other states by several groups looking to combat the ills of lawsuit abuse. Individuals and businesses in Texas are now provided greater protection from frivolous lawsuits, which many economists have suggested will allow the Lone Star State's economy to continue to thrive.
Perhaps the most striking policy advantage Texas has over other states is its tax structure. Texas is one of the few states in the nation that has no personal income tax, making it a haven for high-paying, highly skilled jobs. Other states, including Maryland, impose significant individual tax burdens on individuals, driving away highly skilled workers. Not only that, but Maryland continues to flirt with the possibility of permanently reinstituting the so-called "millionaire's tax" that came to an end in 2010. Such a move would only further increase the exodus of highly skilled jobs from Maryland. That would be quite disappointing, considering the somewhat-superior quality of the education system here in Maryland (compared to other states).
Not only does Texas' friendly tax structure attract highly skilled individuals and jobs to the state, it also attracts many large companies. Texas has the most Fortune 1000 companies of any state and is the No. 1 exporting state in the nation. Believe it or not, Texas has no corporate income tax. Instead, it has a gross receipts tax, which is essentially a sales tax levied on corporations. For comparison, Maryland has an 8.25 percent corporate income tax. According to the Tax Foundation, Texas has the 13th-friendliest business tax climate, while Maryland has the 44th-friendliest climate. Texas continues to attract more companies with its pro-growth tax structure.
There is a clear difference between the economic policies of Texas and Maryland. In Texas, legislators make it a priority to enact pro-growth, pro-business policies. Conversely, in Maryland, legislators look to enact policies that increase the size of government, hampering private-sector economic growth with excessive regulation and higher taxes. I would like to encourage my fellow Marylanders to contact their elected officials in Annapolis (both Democrats and Republicans) and tell them to make tax restructuring and tort reform top priorities in the next legislative session.
Maryland has the potential to be one of the nation's top economic leaders. It's time that legislators wake up and enact policies that will allow that potential to be realized.
Brendan Madigan, a former Republican candidate for Maryland comptroller, was the youngest person ever to seek statewide office in Maryland. He works as a conservative political consultant. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun