I was in Hagerstown last month meeting with Sens. Christopher Shank and David Brinkley, Dels. LeRoy Myers and Neil Parrott, and business leaders in Washington County. The general consensus is that we are all disgusted with the utter and complete disconnect between Annapolis and Washington, D.C., and the rest of Maryland.
Let’s start with Annapolis. According to recent press accounts, Senate President Mike Miller and others are gushing about narrowing the state’s structural budget deficit as if it’s some kind of miracle they accomplished. Leading up to the start of last year’s General Assembly session, there was much talk of a balanced approach of cuts and revenues. Like most of what goes on in Annapolis, it was just that — talk. Instead, we saw a hike on the individual income tax at levels far below that even President Obama is proposing. Refusing to take responsibility for chronic raids on the transportation trust fund, Gov. Martin O’Malley pushed to apply the sales tax to gasoline, and it’s a sure bet there will be even more talk about the need to fund transportation with our tax dollars with the legislature in session.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Congress and the president narrowly averted the fiscal cliff. As The Herald Mail aptly reported, the private sector for months had no idea how to proceed on making new investment and hiring decisions. With automatic spending cuts and another debt ceiling debate, we can count on yet more uncertainty.
As a small-business owner myself and former Maryland cabinet secretary, I know first-hand how this dysfunctional political process is harming job creation, and that it is entirely avoidable.
When we turned over the keys to this administration six years ago, we had a billion dollar cash surplus in the bank and the state was in the best shape it had been in decades. The sad truth is that six years later, the one-party monopoly that rules Annapolis has a failed record of lost jobs, lost businesses, higher spending, record tax increases and broken promises. Washington, D.C., is only making matters worse with a dysfunctional budgeting process.
The hard-working people I met with in Washington County know there is a better way. Maryland families should not have to pay again and again for the out-of-control spending of politicians in Annapolis and Washington.
Larry Hogan is chairman of ChangeMaryland.org, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization with 25,000 members dedicated to bringing fiscal responsibility to Annapolis.