Fact Checking Anthony Brown’s “Fact Check” Site
Lt. Governor Anthony Brown’s gubernatorial campaign has created a fact checking website for the election.
At Factcheckmd.com, a basic WordPress site, Brown has three “fact checks” of his primary opponent Attorney General Doug Gansler and a Twitter feed for @FactcheckMD, which presently has no tweets and five followers.
Here are some facts “FactcheckMD” conveniently omitted.
The most recent post tries to deflect a measure of blame for the botched roll out of Obamacare in Maryland on to Gansler because he was a member of the Healthcare Reform Coordinating Council, which was charged with implementing Obamacare in Maryland.
Of course, the co-chair of that council was none other than Anthony Brown, who had one job: to make sure the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange worked.
In 2012, Brown boasted that “we want to be the model” for implementing Obamacare across the nation.
Two years and a $130 million later, Maryland is abandoning the exchange and replacing it with technology from Connecticut’s system.
But don’t try to pin Brown down with unnecessary “drive thru interview” questions about his responsibility or lack thereof in this debacle.
Another Brown “fact check” of Gansler is on the budget, specifically deficits.
Brown noted that on several occasions Gansler stated that every legislative session, lawmakers head to Annapolis with annual billion dollar deficits, while Virginia puts a billion into its rainy day fund.
Brown countered with this from a Baltimore Sun editorial:
For the record, Virginia completed fiscal 2013 with a $585 million unallocated surplus and a $440 million rainy day fund; Maryland closed out fiscal 2013 with a $502 million unallocated surplus and a $700 million rainy day fund.
Brown and Gansler are talking about two different things. Gansler is referring to Maryland’s chronic structural deficit problem, while Brown is referring to the closeout numbers for one fiscal year.
Every year, through fund raids and debt financing, Governor O’Malley (and Anthony Brown, his name is on that budget book as well) and the legislature adopt a “balanced budget.”
However, the budget never stays balanced because of their addiction to spending, i.e., revenues fail to keep pace with spending for the upcoming years. That’s why it’s a “structural deficit” the problem is built in to Maryland’s budgetary architecture.
Even after the largest tax hike in state history, enacted in 2007, to ostensibly fill a $1.3 billion structural deficit, Maryland’s spending problem still created structural deficits. For the period 2010-2012 Maryland faced structural deficits in the range of $1-$2billion. This year O’Malley and the legislature closed a $585 million structural deficit—mostly on the back of state retirees—by cutting hundreds of millions from the state’s contribution to the state pension fund.
Speaking of annual budget closeouts. The Department of Legislative Audits performs an annual statewide review of budget closeout transactions of state agencies. For example, during 2013 closeout, auditors found $95 million in unlawful budget procedures that require deficiency appropriations or additional spending in future years.
Since the beginning of the O’Malley-Brown administration the total amount of these unlawful budget procedures has totaled $554 million.