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January 17, 2012

Padding One’s Resumé At Our Expense

Shawn Burns

It is no secret that Gov. Martin O’Malley wants to run for president in 2016. He has an ambitious list of proposals he would like to see enacted in the next four years in order to bolster his resumé in order to appeal to progressives and Democrats on the national level.


With that in mind, the question needs to be asked with everything he proposes: Is Governor O’Malley acting with the best interest of the citizens of Maryland in mind, or is he acting in his own best interest?


Padding his resumé for a run at higher office is nothing new. Mr. O’Malley isn’t reinventing the wheel. He is simply playing the game of politics as it has been played for decades.


Again, the question that should be asked is our governor playing the game at the expense of the citizens of Maryland, because after he leaves Government House in Annapolis and moved onto whatever lies ahead for him, we – the people of Maryland – will be left to deal with the consequences of his actions.


In the last week, Governor O’Malley has stated that this year he wants $372 million for school construction and renovation projects.


He has also said he wants $15 million allocated for affordable housing projects. This new money is on top of the $15.5 million that the state already puts into affordable housing projects annually for the last several years.


Mr. O’Malley said he wants $23 million for state parks.


Although leaders in the Legislature have already indicated it won’t happen, Governor O’Malley recently said he would like to see the state sales tax increased from six to seven percent. Remember it was this governor who pushed for and received an increase in the sales tax two years ago during a special session of the General Assembly.


Governor O’Malley also wants the “flush tax” to be tripled to support the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, while at the same time he is pushing for the ban of septic systems, which will cripple new housing projects in rural parts of the state.


Governor O’Malley seems downright excited about the prospect of increasing the state gas tax by as much as 63 percent in order to fund transportation projects, never mind that every year he has been governor he has signed the budget into law which has included raiding hundreds of millions of dollars from the Transportation Trust Fund in order to spend that money on other stuff.


Maryland taxpayers were promised that the money collected from the existing gas tax would be used for transportation projects. Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership that money was spent on projects unrelated to transportation projects. This brings us to his recent statements in support of a new gas tax. He is correct that Maryland must fix, build and renovate roads across the state, but many of those projects could have been started and even finished if he had not allowed millions of dollars to be taken out of the Transportation Trust Fund.


To recap, O’Malley said the money from the existing gas tax would be used for road projects, but instead he spent the money on other stuff and now is coming back saying there is no money for roads projects, so he wants to raise the gas tax by 15 cents per gallon to actually get started on roads projects.


Did you follow that? What are the chances that we will be misled again and taxed more?


By the way, all this new spending that Governor O’Malley wants to do comes at a time the state is facing a structural $1.1 billion budget shortfall. It sure seems like someone is using some fuzzy logic – and even fuzzier math – to come up with all of these “tax ’n spend” proposals.


While many of the items on Governor O’Malley’s wish list may be beneficial for his political career, those agenda items may not be so terrific for Maryland’s future.


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