The Baltimore Sun

Solve deficit by cutting spending

Since the gubernatorial election last year, the news has been filled with stories that have dealt with resolving the State of Maryland's "Structural Deficit." The term "Structural Deficit" simply means that the state is planning to spend more money than it is bringing in.

Proposals by the Democrats in the legislature, for the last five legislative sessions, have consistently revolved around increasing almost any tax you can imagine.

At the same time, they continued to pass legislation for new programs with hefty price tags - even over Gov. Ehrlich's vetoes. The General Assembly is facing its year of reckoning on the deficit, and legislators are divided into two camps on how to fix it: No. 1, raise taxes. Or, No. 2, slow the state's rate of spending.

Count me in the second camp. I worked closely with the House Republican Caucus on a new budget plan to eliminate the structural deficit without new taxes and without cuts in existing services. We unveiled the proposal at an Aug. 15 press conference after giving the House speaker and the governor a courtesy preview in hopes of gaining their cooperation.

The Republican plan would limit growth in state government to 3.5% next year. We have re-examined a number of programs that the state funds and suggested eliminating or reducing them and to refocus our spending on programs that are essential for the state to perform its primary functions. The Republican plan does not divert the Rainy Day Fund reserves and includes NO NEW TAXES.

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I argued and voted against all manner of taxes that were sent up as trial balloons this past legislative session. It was frustrating to watch the majority party complain "we don't have enough money," yet vote again and again to fund legislators' pet programs.

Maryland does not have a revenue problem - Maryland has a spending problem. We already are the 5th most taxed state in the nation and have the 2nd highest state and local individual income tax per person.

Our citizens are at the breaking point. Property tax assessments are up, energy costs are up, medical insurance is up, interest on loans is going up. Hard working families in Maryland make tough choices to balance their checkbooks everyday. The legislature must do the same.

No new taxes. Slower growth in spending. It's all outlined in the budget we presented to the governor and House leadership on Aug. 14. Let's hope they don't let this opportunity slip by.

Susan W. Krebs Eldersburg

Delegate, District 9

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