On Wednesday, Governor Martin O'Malley introduced his state budget that targets Maryland's small businesses and its middle class. This year's budget comes in at $35.8 billion compared to last year's $34.8 billion. The governor claims to have cut over $7 billion from his budget, but any person with an elementary education would see that he has added a billion dollars to the budget. With the state already $1.2 billion in the red, one would think the governor would actually cut spending instead of increasing the budget by 2.87 percent.
The governor's budget proposal also includes numerous tax and fee increases and wild assumptions of revenue from these taxes. The governor has proposed an increase to the tobacco tax, a new Internet sales tax, a new tax on digital downloads and new tax on precious metals. He believes these new taxes will bring in the revenue needed to balance the budget. Last year's budget was balanced on paper, but when all the money was counted and the bills paid the state came up short. I believe the same thing will happen this year and we will continue to kick the can down the road to future budgets.
The Maryland constitution requires the governor to submit a balanced budget every year. However, this year's budget presented to the General Assembly is $166 million underfunded. The governor is assuming that the General Assembly will also pass new taxes in the form of a 1 cent sales tax, a higher gas tax or both to make up for the shortage. This is a bold assumption and I for one will vote against both of these tax proposals and urge my colleagues to do the same.
This governor has an incredible lust for your hard-earned money and continues to ask for more and more of it, without cutting spending. Maryland does not have a revenue problem—it has a spending problem and if we continue down this road of ever-increasing taxes and fees we will drive our residents and businesses to other states.
As your representative in Annapolis, I feel it is my duty to look out for your best interest and not the government's. This budget is not in your best interest. Last year I voted against the governor's budget because it did not address the problem of spending. Instead, it attempted to balance itself on the backs of the citizens of Maryland. I will again vote against Governor Martin O'Malley's budget
because this one is expected to do the same thing.
Del. John Cluster
8th Legislative District
Editor's Note: This article has been revised to show that a state budget increase, originally reported as 4 percent, is in fact an increase of 2.87 percent.