If Only They Would Listen to Republican Ideas…
The fiscal year 2008 budget, O’Malley’s first budget proposed, the Republicans offered an alternative budget, very detailed, that would have prevented the budget deficit and the need to raise taxes. Democrats, and some Republicans, ignored the plan and moved forward. It was preposterous to cut spending, especially on hot button issues like Education. That type of situation was not important, and since they could balance the budget by spending down the ENTIRE rainy day fund (minus the bond rating minimum) there wasn’t a need to take it seriously.
During the Special Session, O’Malley came out with his HUGE tax increase, and the Republicans stood up and said you don’t need to raise taxes if we cut spending. At this point in time, the spending cuts had to be much larger since they were ignored in the beginning and much of the cash had been spent down. Plus, a 2% cut in FY08 suddenly becomes a 4% cut in FY09 because you are adding on growth from two years. To be fair to the Democrat detractors, these spending cuts were not very well defined, most likely because they were even more politically unpalatable. Why put yourself in that situation if the Democrats are just going to ignore it again.
It should be noted however, that Republicans weren’t even proposing an actual cut in Government, only a reduction in the growth of spending. I do find that to be an error. Republicans should have argued for an actual cut if their voice was just going to be ignored. But maybe they were hopefully that Democrats would listen.
The Democrats went forward with their tax plan. The legislature pushed over $500 million in spending cuts, but with NEW spending added in for pet programs, the Special Session actually netted new spending of over $100 million. Those spending cuts had disappeared and were replaced with more spending. More taxes and more spending has become the reality of O’Malley’s fiscal management.
This session the Republicans have outlined their spending cuts required to balance the budget and repeal the computer services tax and put $400 million in the rainy day fund to prepare for the shaky economy that Maryland is sure to face.
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Here’s how they are going to fix the mess the Democrats have put us in:
Enacting all DLS recommended cuts — $189 million saved
Deferring Employee Retirement Savings — $209 million saved
Reduce the INCREASE in Transportation spending — $100 million saved
Defer the Geographic Education Index — $76 million saved
Eliminate 900 FUNDED but vacant positions — $45 million saved
Use bonds for GF PAYGO and Higher Ed projects — $30 million saved
Increase Community Service Provider Rates — $7 million increase
Total : $642 million in savings.
This savings allows for Maryland to get through the tumultuous economic times by saving money, it gets rid of the computer services tax that will cost jobs and cost the state more lost revenue.
And this alternative budget will once again be voted down.