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Despite Remaining Deficit, Progress has Been Made

by: Andrew Kujan

Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 11:36 AM EST

So the state still has some budget woes. To be honest though, the special session went a long way towards helping narrow the gap.  If Miller manages to get slots through this session, many of these budgetary worries will disappear for the near future, or thats what we would like to think. 

There is still the issue of an economy on the downturn, and the difficulty in gauging how this downturn is affecting Maryland.  Either way, I believe that the media coverage of the Governor's budget is a bit over the top.  No where is it mentioned that Maryland is constitutionally required to create a balanced budget.  The Governor must submit a balanced budget and the legislature can only cut or restrict from that.

It is this fiscal discipline that keeps Maryland Triple-A bond rated year in and year out, while still allowing state to spend liberally on important social, educational and environmental programs.  Senator Madeleno put it something like this: "Maryland is a state with Liberal spending and conservative, consititutionally mandated money management".  

Can we do better, yes.  Are we doing better than some?   O'Malley and Democrats are doing the necessary dirty work to keep the State running at the level it's citizens deserve.  I can't say the same about our previous Governor.

Andrew Kujan :: Despite Remaining Deficit, Progress has Been Made
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This is the problem (3.50 / 2)

 Changes in tax laws -- whether they're tax hikes or tax cuts -- offer immediate feedback to the public. A voter sees those extra sixteen cents he's paying for his Starbucks latte, or the extra five bucks he's getting in his paycheck. It generates a quick short-term emotional reaction that's often internalized.

 Meanwhile, the benefits that result from Maryland having a AAA bond rating, or from Maryland enjoying quality schools or roads or libraries or other public services, are (while very real) not quite as visible. The connection between "Maryland has a well-maintained infrastructure" and "Maryland's budget allows for a well-maintained infrastructure" isn't inherently obvious to the typical low-information voter, so the benefits of us not being a low-tax banana republic like Mississippi or South Carolina are harder to convey in a quick soundbite.

 And that's what we're up against, messaging-wise. Governor O'Malley is a vastly better steward of the public interest than his predecessor ever was, but the public, for the most part, feels the tax increases with far more immediacy than it feels the benefits, which are more long-term and subtle.  

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who have not got it." -- George Bernard Shaw


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