Tonight Wor-Wic Community College played host to a District 37 and District 38 Candidate Forum sponsored by the Coastal Association of Realtors and Salisbury Chamber of Commerce. Tomorrow I’ll have more on what the participants said, but a major weakness in the format was soliciting audience questions but only using one (that I was aware of.) It’s too bad, because I had two I thought were good (although one was to be asked of a specific candidate.)
The first question I had was for Jim Mathias and relates to the post I did yesterday. Once again I’ll restate the quote he made in a full-color campaign mailing that arrived at my house:
In the State Senate, (Jim will) push to cut wasteful government spending and reinvest the proceeds in small business jobs and the Eastern Shore.
What I wanted to know from Jim (and certainly other candidates could have added their two cents as well) was what specific programs he considers to be “wasteful spending.” See, it’s one thing to talk in generalities but certainly another to actually propose things to be cut. For all the talk about how communities around the area have to live with less, we haven’t seen all that much effort to do so at the state level.
(Yes, I know some will beg to differ and claim state spending has gone down – but in real terms the budget’s gone up over the last four years, with the federal share increasing.)
The other question I wanted to ask came about as part of the discussion about lowering the state sales tax by a penny on each dollar. I took the figures from memory, but as a ballpark it should be close. Besides, the actual figures matter less than the principle.
The total annual revenue from our state’s sales tax runs about $3.7 billion, and the Eastern Shore is roughly 1/10 of the state’s population, so it stands to reason that 1/10 of the sales tax revenue comes out of here.
Let’s say we could finally place our Eastern Shore merchants on par with Delaware and eliminate the sales tax entirely in the nine counties of the Eastern Shore. I’m curious to see if these candidates would support that, based on the dynamic economic analysis that suggests the additional economic oportunities and jobs created by such a move would end up filling state coffers by more than the $370 million “lost.” Remember, Bob Ehrlich said that increased economic activity and slot revenues would make up the difference from rescinding the penny per dollar sales tax increase, so why not use the same theory here?
So for all of you would-be interviewers and forum hosts, here’s a couple of questions you can ask of the candidates. Tomorrow I’ll discuss this forum, which was way longer than promised but rather interesting.