per pupil spending

Maryland Democrats Lack Credibility on Education Funding

Maryland Democrats have no credibility on fiscal issues, but that didn’t stop them from taking to the podium today to declare that the structural deficit is now closed and to demand that Governor Larry Hogan “fully fund education.”

For the first time in a decade, Maryland expects to begin the budget year with a surplus — and a big one at that.

Democratic legislative leaders announced Monday the state expects to take in half a billion more than it budgeted this year, and they also foresee another $215 million surplus for next fiscal year.

The extra cash touched off partisan bickering over the best way to tend to Maryland’s finances, renewing a rift that pits Republican Gov. Larry Hogan against the state’s top Democrats.

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Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller joined other leaders in urging Hogan to spend more on education, a request the administration rebuffed by saying the state has to make ballooning debt payments in future years.

Of course, there are a few minor problems with the Democrats hot-take on this issue.

  • The Democrats keep saying to a man and to woman that Governor Hogan is “short-changing” education. Not a single Democrat can prove this point. Speaker Mike Busch today said that “No one campaigned on cutting funding from Maryland’s schools. This is not what voters asked for.” Which is true, and probably why Larry Hogan funded K-12 education at a higher level than any Governor in state history.
  • Maryland Democrats cannot be trusted on fiscal issues. These same Democrats who talk about fiscal responsibility and budget surpluses signed on to year after year of Martin O’Malley’s reckless fiscal policies that wanted to raise taxes on middle and working class families, spend every dollar the state brought in, and created the structural deficit that Governor Hogan and his Administration had to come in and fix.

It was Maggie McIntosh though, that gets the award for the most insane thing said at today’s press conference:

In closing that gap for this year and next, House Appropriations Chair Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat, said, “We’ve done what we promised we were going to do.”

What a load of poppycock that is. At no point in time have Democrats ever promised to close the structural deficit. In fact, many Democrats (looking at you Martin O’Malley) denied that there was a structural deficit in the first place. It was Governor Hogan who promised to eliminate the structural deficit that Democrats created. It was Governor Hogan who submitted a responsible budget for to the General Assembly, the first Governor to do so in a decade. All the Democrats did was complain for the entire session that we weren’t spending enough money.

The nature of today’s press conference and the brazenly calculated political gamesmanship of it all was actually exposed by Senate President Mike Miller:

Miller said the Maryland Constitution only requires the state to pay for one thing: education.

“There is one thing that is paramount,” Miller said in an interview. “If you’re not doing the thing that is paramount, how can you do the little asides?”

Funny, because that’s exactly what Republicans, conservatives, and us here at Red Maryland have been saying for years. While Miller, Busch, and the rest of the Democratic Party were off trying to spend every last dollar on every last crazy idea that benefits ever last interest group or every last campaign donor, Republicans were reminding Democrats that education was the only constitutional requirement we were obligated to fund. Of every new program that the Democrats overwhelmingly passed  on O’Malley’s watch, not one of them had the constitutional importance of education. Yet O’Malley also didn’t fully fund the GCEI; except when chose not to fund it, he did so for political purposes and not to close a Democratic budget deficit.

The real question is this: If education is now paramount, and if you’re not doing the thing that is paramount, how can you do the little asides, how come Maryland’s Democrats decided to prioritize the little asides during the last eight years? Why did it take a Republican, Larry Hogan, to fund K-12 education at record levels?

The Maryland Democrats have absolutely no credibility when it comes to issues related to taxes, budgets, and funding; especially when it comes to education spending. Their attacks on Governor Larry Hogan are completely dishonest. That’s why Maryland’s voters rejected their wasteful ways just one year ago. But we the Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to lie about K-12 spending and using school students as props to make bogus political attacks on the Governor. It’s the Democrats, not Governor Hogan, who are politicizing our schools and politicizing education for Maryland’s children. They should be honest with the people about Governor Hogan’s record K-12 spending and about what their intentions truly are. Because the Democrats intentions have nothing to do with spending on schools and everything to do the 2018 election cycle.

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