Guest Post: “The Sky is Falling…..Again”
Editor’s Note: The following was submitted to Red Maryland and prepared by Delegate Herb McMillan (R-30A)
“The whole aim of politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary” H. L. Mencken
The sky is falling! Real cuts that will harm education, health, safety and the environment throughout Maryland! Governor Hogan’s budget is taking us backwards!
The fear tactics began before the ink was dry on a budget that spends less than taxpayers sent us, increases state spending $400 million, increases education funding by $45 million (a record high) and still eradicates an $800 million deficit. Speaker Mike Busch warned, “Every county in the state will get less school funding than expected…that’s a real cut.” Except it isn’t a real cut. Anne Arundel County, receives $9 million more in education funding than last year; our per pupil funding increases from $4,999 to $5,191. Busch claims freezing the inflation rate for education funding is a “cut” because it gives Anne Arundel $4.1 million less than expected; but was an increase in the inflation rate really expected? It’s been frozen at 1% for eight years; and Busch voted to freeze it. Why is Hogan’s continuation of a policy Busch supported then so scary now? Prince Georges County Delegation Chair Jay Walker was afraid that, even with a $38 million education increase, his county would, “lose 600 teachers”. Really? How can you lose 600 teachers when you’re getting $38 million more?
We’ve seen this “Friday the Thirteenth “budget drama unfold every year for eight years. The script never changes. Liberal enacted funding “formulas” automatically drive up “required” spending to a level that exceeds taxpayer money received by the state. A “projected” deficit then becomes a real deficit. Any effort to reduce funding “required” by the “formulas” to balance the budget is called a “cut”, even if the “cut” spends more money than last year. Liberal legislators bemoan the devastation to programs and local governments resulting from the “cuts” (which are really spending increases) and warn we must spend more to “save” ——- (fill in the program) and to “keep us from going backwards”. After much clamor, spending is increased just below what the “formulas” require; that way, liberals can maintain they “compromised” and made billions of “real cuts”. But there are no cuts. Dedicated Funds are raided, state retirement funds are raided, money is borrowed, and taxes are increased to “resolve” the “crisis” and “balance” the budget. Legislators proclaim this hot mess “fiscally prudent and socially responsible,” and go home. Next year….surprise! We have another “budget crisis.”
That is why, over the last eight years, state spending increased from $29 to $39 billion; $4.5 billion in dedicated funds were raided; and taxes were raised 80 times, costing taxpayers $8 billion. It’s also why within two years, unless we act now, we will be spending two times more on debt interest payments than we spend on school construction.
That is why, over the last eight years, 8,000 businesses failed or left Maryland; our unemployment rate exceeded the national average; we led America in home foreclosures; became third in food stamp growth; and were fifth from the bottom in business climate.
That is why we must break the cycle of spend then tax with this budget. Spending, taxes, jobs, and the economy are interrelated. We can’t spend our way out of a deficit, or tax ourselves into prosperity; we’ve tried that for eight years. It doesn’t work. Governor Hogan’s budget is something we haven’t had in a long time: a budget that funds our priorities and lives within its means, just like we do. Those calling for higher funding for anything should also say what funding they would reduce to stay within Hogan’s budget framework; especially the liberal legislators who created this $800 million deficit.
Liberal legislators use Orwellian double speak and fear tactics to paint Hogan’s budget as the end of the world; but it’s really just the end of the world as they know it. With a budget that holds spending below what taxpayers sent us, increases total spending by $400 million, increases education funding by $45 million, caps automatic spending increases, and eradicates an $800 million deficit, the only thing we have to fear….. is fear itself.
Delegate Herb McMillan represents Annapolis in the Maryland House of Delegates and may be contacted at email@example.com data is from FY 2016 Budget Highlights and the Department of Legislative Services.