Steuart Pittman’s Flawed Tool

Once again, the media is heaping unwarranted praise upon Anne Arundel County Executive and wealthy horseman Steuart Pittman for his “budget tool”:

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman launched an online “create your own budget” tool just days before his budget town halls are scheduled to begin.

The interactive program allows county residents to give input on spending and revenue and see how their decisions impact the budget. Residents can submit their version of the budget with comments.

It allows residents to experiment with different spending philosophies, and visualizes the decisions, like “add one ambulance” or “give teachers a 5% pay raise” in real-time with a color-coded pie chart. As these decisions are made, it shows the difference between proposed revenue and proposed spending, turning red if it becomes negative.

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Residents will also have the opportunity to voice concerns and give feedback in person at seven town halls — one scheduled in each councilmanic district.

“What you say really does matter,” Pittman said in a previous statement about budget town halls.

Pittman’s tool is flawed, however.

When using Pittman’s tool, the drop-down menu on spending options only gives residents to either add options that increase the budget or an option to keep that level of spending the same

Pittman’s tool is however improved in a few ways over last year. First, this year the tool gives you an option to reduce both the income tax and the property tax.

Naturally, the tool also allows you to drastically raise taxes on county residents just like Pittman did this year.

Additionally, in what has to be a grudging nod to the many critics of Pittman’s unwarranted and unnecessary tax increases last year, gives you the option to cut spending. Except in only does so by posting this language and forcing you to write it in in the comments section.

The tool does not allow you to actually reduce spending in the Spending Options section, making it impossible to really see what kind of cost savings budget cuts would provide.

This ultimately is the problem with Steuart Pittman’s tool. This budget tool, much like last year, is designed to direct residents toward supporting Pittman’s budget increases and the resulting tax hikes. Just like last year, Pittman is going to use this flawed and biased data to justify unaffordable increases in spending that require massive tax hikes and likely will lead Pittman to again try to circumvent the tax cap like he did last year. Garbage in, garbage out.

The only way to solved Anne Arundel County’s tax and spend issues and deal with Steuart Pittman’s tool once and for all is to send Pittman back to the farm in 2022.

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