O’Malley loses The Sun

You have to know that the budgetary mess that Governor O’Malley has created for the people of Maryland is bad when even the Sun attacks his budgetary shenanigans, labeling his budget as one held together by “Chewing gum and bailing wire“:

Governor O’Malley’s spending plan would, if all goes according to plan, leave $274 million in the state’s bank account at the end of fiscal 2011. That’s good. It would also leave the rainy day fund alone, also a fine thing. After that, things go south — and fast.

The Department of Budget and Management predicts that Maryland will be $1.5 billion in the hole in fiscal 2012, followed by shortfalls of $2.1 billion, $2.2 billion and $2.5 billion. Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. complained that his predecessor left him with $4 billion in out-year deficits, and Governor O’Malley complained that Mr. Ehrlich left him with $3 billion in shortfalls. But with this spending plan, Mr. O’Malley saddles himself or his successor with an $8.3 billion problem. The governor said putting together this budget plan was painful, but it’s peanuts compared to what’s coming in the future if something doesn’t change.

The editorial goes on to point out, much like we did earlier, that the O’Malley budget plan is an irresponsible budget saddled with gimmicks instead of solutions:

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The answer is that too many of the solutions he has employed are one-time tactics, not long-term fixes. For example, the governor saves $330 million in the fiscal 2011 budget by keeping most aid to local governments funded at the already-reduced level they are at now. But in subsequent years, that aid is expected to grow by 5.9 percent a year. He saves $78 million through continuations of employee furloughs, but that isn’t a permanent solution either. He shifts money from special funds, like those dedicated to preserving open space, into the general fund and pays for those programs through the the state’s capital budget, effectively borrowing money for them. Because they displace other capital projects, they won’t increase the state’s debt burden, but nonetheless, Maryland’s debt service payments are expected to grow by hundreds of millions of dollars in the future.

Now in fairness, the Sun went on to attack Republicans by saying their criticism “rings a bit hollow, since they have offered few concrete ideas for reducing spending.” Of course, there are tons of Republican ideas for cutting spending, none of which get a fair shake in the General Assembly. But the fact that a Sun editorial actually calls out O’Malley for his reckless spending and his inability to get our budgetary situation under control really should give the O’Malley Administration at least a bit of understanding about how far off the reservation that they have truly wandered….


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