WaPo & Baltimore Sun Repeat O’Malley Budget Cuts Fiction

Here’s my first piece over at the Media Research Center’s Newsbusters Blog.

Since ascending to the head of the Democratic Governor’s Association last year, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has been fashioning a national profile for himself as a responsible fiscal steward of Maryland’s finances. The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun are dutifully helping O’Malley perpetuate that fiction.

O’Malley released his fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget last month, which includes, among other taxes, an income tax hike for 20 percent of taxpayers to close a $1 billion structural deficit.

Echoing Governor O’Malley’s claim of record budget cuts, ($7.5 billion over six years), the Washington Post wrote:

Democratic leaders in the General Assembly offered initial support for the governor’s budget, calling his push for new revenue the embodiment of what O’Malley and other Democratic leaders nationwide have labeled a “balanced approach” to government spending after nearly a half-decade of budget cutting during the downturn…

What cuts? What balance? The Post failed to mention that Maryland’s budget is $6.4 billion (21 percent) larger today, than O’Malley’s first budget in 2008. According to a report from the National Association of State Budget Officers O’Malley’s FY 2012 general fund budget increased spending by 11.4 percent, the fourth largest increase in the nation. Nor did the Post mention that O’Malley raised taxes by $3.6 billion over his first term according to a report from Maryland’s non-partisan Department of Legislative Services.

The Baltimore Sun similarly recited O’Malley’s budget cut claims without any context the real numbers in its coverage of his recent state of the state address to the legislature:

But he [O’Malley] said that the spending reductions his administration has made over the last four years, in addition to $800 million in his proposed budget, have left “fewer options for responsible budget-cutting.”

However, buried in O’Malley’s own budget book (pp. 94-97), are two tables, which show a $1.6 billion increase in spending in FY 2013 over FY 2012. O’Malley’s 2012 budget spent $34.2 billion, and his proposed budget spends $35.8 billion.

It appears that the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun’s coverage of Maryland’s fiscal issues is as unbalanced as the state’s budget.

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