There were a number of critical articles (like this one) and even a resolution before the state party stemming from the decision of Cecil County Executive Tari Moore to bolt from the Republican Party so she could pick her own successor on the County Council. But count me among those who figured she’d return to the GOP. Indeed, she did so back in November.
Needless to say, the local party didn’t exactly welcome her back with open arms, particular county Chair Chris Zeauskas:
Today, the Cecil Whig published a story announcing County Executive Tari Moore’s switch back from Unaffiliated to Republican.
By changing her Party affiliation, she confirms, yet again, that her switch was nothing more than political calculation.
For Tari Moore, it wasn’t about conscience and it wasn’t about doing what was best for Cecil County.
As you might remember, just after being elected County Executive, Tari Moore changed her Party affiliation in a politically motivated move to control who her successor would be in filling her then vacant County Council seat.
She chose to steal the right of the duly elected Cecil County Republican Central Committee to nominate candidates to fill her vacancy on the Cecil County Council.
As per the County Charter, when a vacancy opens on the County Council (assuming that seat is held by a Republican), the Cecil County Republican Central Committee nominates 3 individuals for the County Council to select for appointment.
Rather than stand for the conservative Republican values of Cecil County voters, Tari Moore decided to undermine them.
She undermined the democratic process and the will of the voters for her own political gain.
Not only was it wrong for Moore to betray Republican voters who helped her get elected, she’s betrayed all Cecil County voters in her time in office.
As our representative, Moore has:
- Increased taxes and fees several times
- Increased and voted for huge spending increases
- Piled on massive new debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay for
- Voted against our property rights by supporting government purchases of land and centralized planning initiatives
Tari Moore is not a Republican, she does not stand for any Republican values, and she has proven herself to be yet another self-interested, self-serving politician.
Between now and her next election we hope to educate all voters in Cecil County about what Tari Moore truly stands for and we ask you today to do the same.
You know, I could say all that about a lot of Republicans all around the state. Anyway, I’m reading that as Tari Moore having a primary opponent the next time she’s up for election. Cecil County, though, is sort of an odd duck in that they will have perhaps the most significant of the local elections come 2016. Unlike most other counties, they elect certain officers (such as their County Executive) in a Presidential year rather than a Gubernatorial one; thus, the election will be one of the most closely watched in the state.
You may recall Zeauskas is the Central Committee chair who sponsored a resolution in 2012 accusing Moore of accepting party money “under false pretenses.” The resolution was tabled in that meeting and not brought up in the chaotic spring 2013 convention that followed.
In fact, this news wasn’t revealed as the county filed suit against Delegate Michael Smigiel to recoup legal costs incurred in the Zeauskas lawsuit against Cecil County. My post happened to be the day she switched back, but it turns out I was correct in assuming she would wait until the legal coast was clear.
I find it very intriguing, though, that Zeauskas will get very little feedback about being critical of a fellow Republican elected official – but let a conservative blogger do the same thing and the cries of disloyalty spring up from several quarters. I’m sure what passes for a Democratic Party in Cecil County is enjoying the show, not that they have nothing else to run against since most county officials there are Republicans.
So I’ll welcome Tari back, even if her motives for leaving weren’t the purest. Let’s allow the debate to focus on policy, both now and once the candidates are known.
The other night on Facebook I wrote a statement, which was somewhat off the cuff and just a little tongue-in-cheek, but to my surprise and delight a number of people took it more seriously than I thought they would. This is what I wrote:
Thinking about Jackie Wellfonder and her poll about salaries…I think certain members should get an increase. But how about this radical proposal?
In year one after election, you receive $80,000 in salary. It may seem like a lot, but surely there are expenses a freshman legislator has to pay.
In year two, though, the salary drops to $70,000…then $60,000 in year 3 and $50,000 in year 4. Still want another term? Well, the salary will go down in $5,000 annual increments from there to a stipend of $10,000 a year for veteran legislators.
My hope is that this would encourage the average person to run for political office, serve their term, and then return to private life – just as our Founders intended.
Bear in mind the Maryland General Assembly members get just over $40,000 in salary, plus a stipend for living expenses during the session. I don’t think the latter part is completely unfair considering a large portion of them don’t live that close to Annapolis and the hours during session are irregular.
But to me there’s something wrong with the system where members (of both parties, although Democrats tend to be the worse offenders) feel they should serve twenty or thirty years – or even longer. The current Maryland poster child for this phenomenon is State Senator Norman Stone. At the age of 78, he has spent almost 2/3 of his life in the General Assembly – elected to the House of Delegates in 1962, he moved up to the Senate in 1966 and has served there since. (Stone decided in July to forgo yet another term.)
There’s something to be said for institutional knowledge, but a half-century is way too long in public office.
So I came up with my idea, for which I really didn’t do any math. But I think the ideal legislator for me would be someone who has spent a little bit of time in local political office (perhaps 4 to 8 years) but much more time building a business, raising a family, and being active in the community outside the political arena. He or she would spend 4 years in Annapolis, or perhaps 8 on the outside, and then return home.
Or I can use a personal example. I have spent almost 12 years overall as a member of a local Republican Central Committee – about four years in Ohio and I’m into my eighth year here. I am planning on running one more time next year – win or lose, it’s my last election because I promised myself I would not run again for office after I turn 50. To me, being on the Central Committee is a good place to get a political start and I’d like to see some younger people occupy that office after I’m through. I’m not going to be a Central Committee member in my nineties, as we have now. (Out of nine in our local group, the three youngest among us are all in our forties, with the average somewhere around retirement age.) Once I win, I will be set up for a total of about 16 years of political service and four wins on the ballot. (I also lost once, but I was shortly thereafter appointed to serve an adjacent precinct.)
Simply put, the idea was not to stay in office forever – it seems like we tried to set ourselves up NOT to have elected royalty. So I figured if the financial incentive gets smaller, perhaps people would think twice about making politics a career. Of course they still could since my state restriction wouldn’t apply to federal office. Then again, we only have ten such posts available.
Obviously there’s another method of achieving this goal, and that’s term limits. Like the federal government, our state’s chief executive is limited to two consecutive terms but legislators have no such restriction. While I understand the libertarian argument that people should get to elect whoever they want – even if it’s for a tenth or twelfth term – the abuse of this system led me to change my mind about this issue, for I was once opposed to term limits on those grounds.
Once we take care of the political side, the next step is to shrink the size and role of government so that career bureaucrats can’t run the show, either. That’s a more difficult path to take, but it’s the item we have to explore in order to rightsize government.
Damn, I can’t wait for this report to come out. Almost makes me wish Larry Hogan would drop this governor’s business and focus on getting more of this information out because too many will dismiss it as partisan opposition research:
Change Maryland has released new information that seems to reveal the appearance of a “pay-to-play” system within the O’Malley-Brown Administration where contractors received significant benefits from the state either before or after their donations to the Democratic Governors Association during Governor O’Malley’s tenure as its chairman.
“This additional data further suggests a disturbing pattern of behavior that, at the very least, is unethical and inappropriate,” said Larry Hogan, Chairman of Change Maryland. “I think the public has a right to know the truth about these practices. Did the governor and/or others in his administration solicit large contributions from contractors, then reciprocate by rewarding those donors with huge state contracts, contract extensions, or other special favors or decisions in return?” he added.
Obviously this has serious implications and gives the appearance of the potential for decisions being influenced by millions of dollars in “donations.” Recognizing the inappropriate and unethical nature of these relationships, state law currently prohibits state contractors from making contributions to an elected official’s campaign account. This evidence indicates the possibility of a deliberate, coordinated effort by this administration to circumvent the intent of the law by soliciting huge, unlimited contributions to a federal, rather than state, account.
The report released today by Change Maryland shows that healthcare services company Express Scripts received a $2.3 billion contract despite serious concerns about the company’s legal issues in Maryland and 28 other states. In 2008, the company paid over $9.3 billion in settlement costs to these states.
From March 2011 to February 2012, the Maryland Board of Public Works was deciding whether to approve the lucrative contract to Express Scripts to provide prescription drug services to state employees. In March 2011, two of the three members voted to postpone a decision out of concerns about the company’s legal issues and several flaws in the procurement process. Governor O’Malley was the lone vote to move forward with the contract.
During this same time, Medco – a company looking to merge with Express Scripts – donated a combined $225,000 to the DGA. In fact, their first contribution came just six days after Governor O’Malley cast the lone vote to move forward with the drug contract.
In late January 2012, the Board of Public Works again voted to delay the contract award, drawing significant criticism from Governor O’Malley at the time who complained about the endless delays. One month later, the BPW reversed course, awarding the contract to Express Scripts in a two to one vote. On March 27, 2012, Medco made their second and final donation to the DGA: $125,000. Medco and Express Scripts received final Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approval for their merger on April 2, 2012.
“Maryland’s working families deserve better from their elected leaders,” Hogan said. “This is what happens when you have an arrogant monopoly that feels they can get away with anything. What Maryland desperately needs is a healthy and competitive two party system, open and honest debate, and some real checks and balances to keep some of these outrageous abuses from taking place.”
In addition to this most recent research, Change Maryland released other questionable contributions from state contractors to the DGA.
Update: I was informed by a representative of Express Scripts that the correct settlement figure is $9.8 million (not billion.) This is incorrect in the original Change Maryland release, so I left the release as is and opted to clarify here.
Hogan’s group seems to be taking the Chinese water torture approach, leaking information on this report a drop at a time to both make the opposition wonder what else he’s got and keep up interest in the runup to the release.
This series seems to leave me torn as well. I’m an advocate for unfettered political contributions, even at the risk of these apparent pay-to-play contributions. But I also want full and relatively instant disclosure, and even though these are federal releases with a more aggressive reporting schedule than state accounts – at least in non-election years – there’s still a significant lag time involved.
The allegations also raise another embarrassing question: where was the state’s major media in reporting this? Didn’t anyone wonder why the vote changed? Certainly Comptroller Peter Franchot had his reasons for maintaining his vote against the issue; the vote which changed was treasurer Nancy Kopp – interesting, because hers is not an elected post. (The transcript of that meeting is painful to read because the state really seemed to drop the ball on a $2.3 billion contract, dropping a Maryland-based provider for the aforementioned Express Scripts.)
What I’m afraid of is that this Change Maryland report will be both the tip of the iceberg and dismissed as “old news” because Martin O’Malley isn’t running for anything in Maryland and Anthony Brown will escape culpability because Larry Hogan is now a political opponent instead of an honest broker.
We need to clean out the swamp, it’s true, but in order to clean it we have to secure the tools to do so first. I think it would also be a good idea for Change Maryland to reveal where it gets its funding, just to show leadership. That’s my two cents.
Today the state’s Spending Affordability Committee allowed Maryland to increase its debt load another $75 million and to grow the state’s budget by 4 percent, both over Republican objections. This comes from the House Republican Caucus Facebook page, a note which will likely be prominent in an upcoming release:
Today Republican leaders in the House & Senate voted unanimously AGAINST supporting dramatic increases in state spending & debt.
Ultimately the Spending Affordability Committee passed a resolution to support allowing state debt to increase by another $75 million and spending in the state budget to increase by 4%. “After nearly 80 increases in taxes, tolls, and fees over the last seven years it is irresponsible to lay the foundations for yet another tax increase”, said Delegate Addie Eckardt of the Appropriations Committee. “Voting to expand our debt is basically voting to increase Maryland’s property tax; maybe not today, but certainly in the not-so-distant future.”
With structural deficits widening and lackluster growth in Maryland’s economy, Republicans also supported a measure for zero growth in the State’s operating budget.
While the state struggles with the aforementioned structural deficit – predicted to be nearly a half-billion dollars despite gleeful assurances we had eliminated it, both after the 2007 special session and after another series of tax hikes last year – the decision by the Spending Affordability Committee means that spending can increase as much as $1.5 billion next year, based on last year’s $37.3 billion state budget. Needless to say, the slow growth in the state’s economy will likely force the O’Malley/Brown administration and Democrats in the General Assembly to conjure up new sources of revenue.
It’s also likely the Republicans in the General Assembly will put together their own budget alternative which holds the line on spending, only to be ignored as they always are. A 2% across-the-board cut in this year’s budget would have saved Maryland taxpyers around $750 million. With that savings, for example, the sales tax could have reverted back to 5%, as it brings in $4.3 billion annually.
Eckardt, who represents a portion of Wicomico County as well as parts of Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot counties in the General Assembly, isn’t the only local member of the SAC. Democrat Norm Conway is also an ex officio member based on his being Chair of the Appropriations Committee, and I’m told all the Democrats voted for this budget busting.
While the budget is created by Governor Martin O’Malley, it’s considered one of the most executive-heavy budgets in the country because of the lack of power the General Assembly has in changing it. Thus the emphasis on winning back the governor’s seat next year.
Since Martin O’Malley introduced his first budget one day after taking office in 2007 (the FY2008 budget) the FY2015 budget he’ll introduce early next year will be his last. Whether a dose of sanity is present for the FY2016 budget will be up to voters next November.
It (almost) all comes down to this.
Perhaps the most important – and controversial – issue in Maryland is money. How much of it will the state take from your wallet?
We’ve heard the litany for the last couple years: all the tax increases, all the new tolls, and dozens of other new ways the state parts you from your cash. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I went out and earned it, I consider it mine until I decide what to spend it on.
So let’s see what the three candidates in the race so far have to say about the situation.
David Craig: As Governor, I will repeal, reduce or eliminate any tax or fee that is impeding job growth – rain tax, business taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, and fuel taxes for starters. I will eliminate the tax on pensions.
Under the Maryland Constitution, the Governor controls the budget. As governor, I will use this authority to make actual cuts to the budget, and I will end the practice of attempting to fool voters into thinking spending is being reduced when it’s not. Such budget games enable politicians to carry out their real agenda which is to grow their government with your money. As for taxes, fees and tolls, those that are the most damaging to individuals and our economy will be reduced or eliminated.
As Governor, I will support withholding funds for departments and agencies that have recurring problems uncovered in state legislative audits. (campaign website)
Harford County Executive David Craig today called on the Maryland General Assembly to repeal the so-called rain tax in the next legislative session. (press release, July 1, 2013)
monoblogue: But is there any chance we’re going to see some of that stuff rolled back if you’re elected?
Craig: I will look at all of them. But if somebody says “which tax first?” I’m going to look at all of them. There are certain taxes that probably haven’t been on the table that people said, would you ever get rid of this? If the state says that we’re going to make – we have a Public Service Commission to keep your BG&E rate as low as possible, why do we tax it? Why do we tax it? If we got rid of that, it gets rid of $5 on your BG&E bill every – well, it would save you 60 bucks. And guess what? You’re probably going to spend it somewhere else.
The gas tax – I do tell people I have to be cautious to (not) say I’m going to get rid of this tax or lower this right away because – I’ll have to use the septic tax for an example – when Ehrlich was governor the septics were all done through PAYGO, so he didn’t have capital projects. This governor turned it to bonding, so if I’m stuck with paying off a bond I’ve got to do that first before I can get rid of the tax. (monoblogue interview)
Ron George: Lower the Corporate Income Tax Rate by 2% to 6.25% in 2015 and lower it .25% in 2016 and 2017 until it rests at 5.75 percent, creating an incentive for businesses to come and to stay in Maryland.
An across the board 10% income tax cut. This puts more money in the pockets of working families and helps many small businesses to grow the economy.
Encourage Baltimore City in the reducing of their property tax rates.
Repeal the Gas Tax and the Rain Tax, challenging the EPA in court if necessary.
Allow Maryland residents to receive a 20% sale tax credit on all individual items bought for over $100.00 in Maryland when they file for their tax returns and supply a proof of purchase, thus creating an incentive for Marylanders to buy Maryland goods. (campaign site)
George advocated tax cuts over tax credits, claiming that the latter is the Democrats’ way “to make you dependent.”
“You play their game, and you get a tax credit,” George said. “They’re picking winners and losers.” (Southern Maryland News, June 26, 2013)
The photo to the left is him beaming after signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a document put out as a vow between the candidate and the taxpayer, through Americans for Tax Reform. (monoblogue, June 21, 2013)
“I agree with Comptroller Franchot that we cannot afford more bond lending,” George remarked. “O’Malley is shifting today’s debt onto our children. He cannot fund the budget with existing revenue so he has backfilled the budget with bond bills.”
Del. George also noted that it was the O’Malley/Brown administration who extended our debt service from 5 years to 15 years thus creating ever increasing future structural deficits. (press release, September 26, 2013)
Charles Lollar: One solution he advocated was a taxpayer’s bill of rights (or TABOR law) like Colorado adopted some years ago. Simply put, a TABOR law means annual spending can only be increased by the sum of percentage of population growth plus the rate of inflation. (WCRC meeting, August 26, 2013)
Referring to the state of Maryland, Charles warned “we can’t afford our lifestyle,” claiming that $9.2 billion of a $35 billion state budget comes from various federal grants and stimulus money. We bring in only $26 billion of a $35 billion expense tab, said Lollar. (Wicomico County LDD, March 23, 2013)
I will immediately create an attractive business environment by proposing:
Reduction of the state sales and use tax from 6%, requested by and enacted for the O’Malley Administration, back to 5%.
Repeal the Rain Tax (the “Impervious Surfaces Tax,” requested and signed into law by Governor O’Malley), which imposes a “storm water management fee” upon Maryland landowners in ten counties to collect and treat pollutants in storm water and release it to the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries.
EPA’s decree was imposed on New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia and Maryland. Yet, only Maryland has instituted a levy on its property owners to meet EPA’s standards.
Repeal the new 24 cent per gallon added tax, which substantially increases the costs of transportation to all Marylanders and injures the ability of those who rely on water and land transportation to operate their businesses and employ others. The new O’Malley Administration tax has been added on top of all other gasoline taxes Marylanders must pay.
Repeal the Death Tax (the “Estate or Inheritance Tax”) which essentially “robs the dead” by stealing the fruits of one’s lifetime labor upon death by taxing once again your assets, already taxed during your lifetime through income and other taxes. State and federal death taxes have a dreadful impact upon many Marylanders and family owned business and farms, causing substantial financial pain to, and often the livelihoods of, family survivors forced to sell the family farm or business to pay these taxes. (campaign website)
“I would do something a whole lot different. We would start from where we were last year, go backwards 3 percent from there – let that be a bottom-line dollar figure – and then go right back to our state department leaders and say…show me or justify why it needs to be more than that prior to this budget going forward.”
“I don’t just want to balance the budget, gentlemen, I want to send refund checks back home to the citizens here in the state of Maryland.” (blogger interview, June 24, 2013)
“If someone with the fiscal experience that I have can step in there and write us a budget that puts us on track to a balanced budget, with no dependency on federal dollars, then I think I’ve done enough for the state of Maryland.”
“…if we pass a tax payer’s bill of rights and we mandate that your state government cannot grow any faster then the cost of living and CPI (consumer price index), then if your paychecks don’t grow more than one percent, neither should your state government. If we had that law passed, we would have sent checks home to every legalized, tax paying citizen in Maryland for the past eight years.”(interview, Raging Against the Rhetoric, July 2013)
Lollar would institute a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, so that government spending and taxes would not outpace the inflation rate. He would amend the state constitution to require a referendum in order to increase taxes at a faster rate than inflation. (Real Clear Markets, September 3, 2013)
Lollar, who lost a 2010 race against Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) and is hoping for better results with his run for governor in next year’s election, said the state budget should start out with “what you have,” not “what you want,” as he said the current governor and Democratic-controlled General Assembly has done year after year.
“That policy is terrible,” he said, adding that the state budget is growing faster than Maryland residents’ paychecks. (SoMDNews, November 1, 2013)
If you’re looking for help on the other side of the aisle, well, good luck.
One key goal of Anthony Brown’s business ideas is “enabl(ing) state and local government to adequately fund our shared priorities.” After the 70 or 80 tax increases we’ve endured over the last seven years, one would think the funding is already more than adequate.
And while Doug Gansler doesn’t address these issues directly, Heather Mizeur is looking to yet another “sin tax” by legalizing and taxing marijuana; meanwhile, she’s also itching to tax the state’s producers. While she claims the overall effect would be “revenue neutral,” we lost money the last time this was tried.
So when I look at the candidates, I have to wonder who I think would hold the line. David Craig has a realistic view of the situation, but my fear is that we will see too much of the “look at all of them” and not enough of the repeal or eliminate. The governor has the whip hand based on his control of the budget, so it should be treated that way. The thing which worries me is that the budget will go down, but there will be the real temptation to keep the taxes to build up the “rainy day fund” or some other excuse. Out of 15 points, I can give him 11.
Ron George has the right ideas, although once again the pacing is a little slower than I’d like. While I didn’t mention it in this go-round, the auditing would be a help with the budget. It would be interesting, though, to see what his budget priorities were.
But I found it odd that he talked about tax cuts over tax credits, but proposed one for the Maryland-made goods. Honestly, that’s not going to be a great incentive for business to move here or people to buy here because it’s more paperwork they have to remember. I’d rather just cut the sales tax. So for Ron it’s 12.5 of 15 points.
The best thing any of the three main candidates have come up with is the idea of a TABOR, which Charles Lollar proposed. Its appeal is basic: there would be a spending cap for the state. Priorities would have to be set, and choices made, rather than the seemingly common belief that tax dollars will endlessly be provided. Now whether he could eliminate the entirety of the $9 billion we receive from the federal government is, to be quite honest, very questionable, but certainly getting a TABOR passed would help keep spending to a point where it’s manageable.
But the financial arena is where a populist approach works best. It’s not perfect because there are still some vague areas which need to be explored further, but this is perhaps Lollar’s strongest area and he receives 14 of 15 points.
I’m not quite done yet, though. The final part will deal with some of the intangibles I found.
It’s been awhile since I talked about the concept of Smart Growth, but some relatively recent developments caught my eye and I figured it was time to talk about them. One of these items has been sitting on my top bookmarks for a few weeks now.
Last spring, against my advice, the voters of Salisbury elected Jake Day to their City Council. Since that time, Day has joined with nine other local elected officials around the state as part of an advisory board for Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. This is a collaboration between the rabidly anti-growth 1,000 Friends of Maryland and Smart Growth America.
Now allow me to say that downtown development is just fine with me. My problem with so-called Smart Growth legislation – such as the Septic Bill which mandated counties provide tier maps for approval by the state, usurping local control – is that it eliminates options local landowners may choose to use. If there is a market for people who wish to live in a rural area, it should be served; moreover, many parts of the region are already off-limits to development because the land doesn’t drain properly. At least that restriction makes sense.
Developing Salisbury’s downtown is important for the city, but not squeezing rural development is important for Wicomico County.
Another recent development in the city is the adoption of designated bicycle pathways, which in Salisbury are marked by “sharrows.” Since I frequently drive in Delaware, I’m familiar with their custom of designating bicycle lanes on the shoulder of the highway, as that state seems to take the concept farther than their Maryland neighbors. But sharrows have a different purpose, simply denoting the best place to ride in a shared lane. In theory, however, a group of bikes moving along the shared lane could slow traffic down to their speed. It may seem extreme, but this has happened in larger cities.
Granted, the designated bicycle ways in Salisbury are somewhat off the beaten path of Salisbury Boulevard, which also serves as Business Route 13 in Salisbury. But the anti-parking idea expressed in the American Spectator article is a dream of Salisbury bicyclists, who want to eliminate one lane of on-street parking when downtown is revitalized. With the lower speed limits common along downtown streets, the bigger danger for bicyclists comes from a driver of a parked car unwittingly opening a car door in the path of a bicyclist rather than the large speed difference common on a highway with a bike lane.
This also works with an anti-car movement called the Complete Streets Coalition, which believes that “incomplete streets (are) designed with only cars in mind.” Instead, they fret that:
(Incomplete streets) limit transportation choices by making walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation inconvenient, unattractive, and, too often, dangerous.
Changing policy to routinely include the needs of people on foot, public transportation, and bicycles would make walking, riding bikes, riding buses and trains safer and easier. People of all ages and abilities would have more options when traveling to work, to school, to the grocery store, and to visit family.
Making these travel choices more convenient, attractive, and safe means people do not need to rely solely on automobiles. They can replace congestion-clogged trips in their cars with swift bus rides or heart-healthy bicycle trips. Complete Streets improves the efficiency and capacity of existing roads too, by moving people in the same amount of space – just think of all the people who can fit on a bus or streetcar versus the same amount of people each driving their own car. Getting more productivity out of the existing road and public transportation systems is vital to reducing congestion.
Just think of how much control we can have over people’s movement if we could only get them out of their cars. Oh, sorry, was I reading between the lines?
Many of these concepts were outlined in Day’s plan for Salisbury. It’s not that the city doesn’t need changes, but it’s my belief that giving too much weight to less efficient modes of transportation or those who create the need for dependency on the schedule of public transportation is counter-productive to good development. Retail, for example, depends on the ability of customers to have close, convenient parking.
But more important to me is liberty – the freedom to do what you wish with your property or to move about as you desire. Regulations from our overlords in Annapolis enacted over the objections of local government usurp the principle that the best government is the one closest to the people. The push toward mass transit at the expense of the automobile removes a vital travel option from the traveling public – Maryland already spends a disproportionate share of gasoline tax dollars on mass transit as opposed to maintenance and improvement to the highway system, and that inequity threatens to become more pronounced with the Red Line and Purple Line in Maryland’s urban core.
Above all, these should be local decisions. The problem with Smart Growth and its tentacles creeping into government at higher levels is its reliance on central planning. Maybe we’d trust Annapolis more if we thought they had our best interests at heart, but past performance doesn’t bode well for future results.
Update: I was researching a more recent post and came across this nugget from Montgomery County, which wants to usurp a car travel lane for buses on certain routes.
There’s an old saying that you draw the most flak when you’re over the target. Well, over the last six weeks or so I must have been circling around the heart of the Maryland political conversation because I’ve seen my name in a lot of other quarters and have had to defend myself a lot. It happened again yesterday.
I actually was in the midst of writing a long, drawn-out post to rehash these assumptions when I came to a conclusion that I have better things to do, thus I broomed it. Just leave the past in the past and concentrate on being a better, more effective writer and better man. So I apologized to the latest writer for any misunderstanding.
I think at times we all forget we in the Maryland conservative movement, particularly those who choose to be the writers, are all part of the same team, and what we are going through would equate to the same clubhouse dissention that you’ll find on a ballclub which is a perennial cellar-dweller. As it turns out, though, we’re catching the other team on a losing streak of sorts, that being expressed in tax hikes, a flawed Obamacare rollout, and the people growing weary of the general attitude of entitlement the other side exhibits. Many members of our team point these out, although not everyone seems to be aware of this.
Yet we have our problems as well, particularly in management – in fact, we have no manager. Instead, we have four men who are doing an extended interview for the job and different factions of the team support different candidates – the left side of the infield strongly backs one guy so much so they endorsed him, starting pitchers and bullpen are divided, and the left fielder who likes to play deep has his choice. Veterans are in their camp and the brash rookies probably don’t agree. In and of itself, that’s not so bad because, as I said, we’re still picking a manager. The game hasn’t started quite yet.
Me? I’m just trying to stay in the starting lineup and trying to decide who I think will be the best leader. Once in awhile I toss a wild pitch but I believe I throw mostly strikes, and those umpires who stop by here generally agree. Maybe the other bloggers feel differently about their roles, but I look at my job as one of keeping the team in the game. I may be the hoary veteran of the bunch, but I still want the ball every day so I can help the team. I’m all about turning things around and getting us that long-awaited championship, rewarding not just our long-suffering fans but everyone else, too.
That’s enough of the ballclub analogy for today. I can almost guarantee some will take this in a way I wasn’t intending, so my advice can be heeded or fall on deaf ears – that’s not up to me anymore. I said my piece, so it’s time to carry on.
Yes, I’m going to talk jobs. Some may ask why it’s only the second-most important factor and that’s because we all work to build our own wealth and maximizing control of that wealth is key. But the best way to amass wealth is through your own toil, so why not have a governor who creates the conditions to create employment?
I add the aspect of transportation into this category becaise I believe having a comprehensive and effective system of moving goods to market while allowing people the maximum freedom of movement is also important in creating employment.
And while some who dismissed this cause have already made their endorsement decision, I’m still working it out. Fourteen points are at stake here in my 100-point competition, so away we go…
David Craig: Economic development will be a central focus of my Administration. As Lt. Governor, Jeannie Haddaway, and my cabinet secretaries will review every regulation harming job growth.
After we fix our tax code, our state’s economic development office will refocus on its mission of bringing jobs to Maryland – recruiting everything from warehouses, to corporate headquarters, to science labs. Our focus will be to maintain, build, and attract businesses new and old. (campaign website)
Reducing the individual income tax is a priority because of the importance of start-up and early stage companies that are often organized as pass-through entities. Regulations are often conflicting and duplicative among federal, state and local governments and will be the initial focus of a broader effort to overhaul the process. (Press release, October 4, 2013)
Asked about business, Craig intended to hold quarterly business roundtables. Because it affected local businesses in advance of consumers, we knew about the recession back in 2008, said Craig, and Harford County made budgetary decisions in a proactive fashion based on that knowledge. (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)
And Craig raised questions about whether the Red Line, a light-rail project in Baltimore, should be built. (Washington Post, May 31, 2013)
Ron George: Grow the tax base in Baltimore, allowing other jurisdictions to keep their money home for infrastructure and education needs. Remove burdensome regulations.
Bring back large corporate manufacturing companies to Baltimore to create entry level and mid-level jobs. Attract the import and export industry to make use of our newly expanded Port and BWI.
Bring back mid size and small manufacturing firms to the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland, and Southern Maryland small cities, towns and rural cross-roads where property taxes are lower and homes for workers more affordable.
Assist small cities such as Chestertown that have revenue saved toward broadband and other incentives, by giving them the rest of the cost they need on a pay-back basis, thus allowing these municipalities to attract small retail, IT and other businesses to areas that are more affordable to live in.
Create a true lock-box for the Transportation Trust Fund that no legislative body can draw from for other needs so all interested parties can have predictability.
Put all gas taxes toward state road and bridge creation and improvements. (note the aforementioned repeal of the 2013 gas increases and its required forced automatic increases.) (campaign website)
“Maryland needs regional plans, for business, for economic development and for education,” said George.
He said a state grant with a payback provision makes sense, because if it spurs a local economy, it increases the tax base. If private firms aren’t stepping up, “you need a grant to close that hole,” he said. The state “awards a lot of grants we never see a payback on. The money is gone.”
At the Port of Baltimore, the city has a chance to attract import-export businesses because of improvements there. A new generation of larger cargo ships will be able to call. “They could attract import-export businesses, but they’re not doing that now,” he said.
At the same time, there must be “a different approach for the Eastern Shore, for Kent County.” (Kent County News, August 22, 2013)
To conclude the initial portion of his remarks, Ron noted he was the Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s legislator of the year, in part for his work in capping the state’s boat excise tax, and promised that, if elected, “I will make sure (rural areas of Maryland) get their fair share.” (WCRC meeting, September 23, 2013)
Charles Lollar: Charles will promote the rebirth of construction and industry jobs through private-public investment that Maryland desperately needs – now. Charles will inspire companies to grow by creating the necessary economic and regulatory climate for companies to do so, but without hurting the state’s natural environment.
He wants to reduce the need for prisons by lowering the crime rate by creating avenues to rewarding jobs as industry and construction firms thrive and by increasing the influences of community based non-profits. (campaign website, “Platform”)
Fix a broken system that is blocking access to opportunities with over-regulation and excessive taxes. Review all unnecessary taxes and regulations and eliminate the Rain Tax. (campaign website, “Jobs and Economy”)
Lollar is opposed to the Purple Line, a $2.2 billion 16-mile rail project that even the richest Maryland residents are not prepared to pay for. It can only be built with substantial federal and state subsidies, as yet unappropriated: $900 million from Uncle Sam, $400 million from Maryland, and the rest from who knows where. The Purple Line is disliked by some residents because it would displace a popular walking and bike trail, but supported by developers because they think it would enhance the value of commercial property. Instead, Lollar favors small buses, which have high per-person pick-up rates. (Real Clear Markets, September 3, 2013)
“We have something to prove. From the day I get sworn in as your governor here in Maryland, that sign that says ‘Governor Martin O’Malley’ will come down. It won’t be replaced with ‘Governor Charles Lollar,’ it will be replaced with a tagline that says ‘Maryland is open for business.’” (SUTV interview, November 13, 2013)
So let’s look at the other side. Anthony Brown has a business plan, but it leans heavily on “forg(ing) a stronger partnership between the public and private sectors.” Under “Tax Liability” it’s worth noting a priority is that it “enables state and local government to adequately fund our shared priorities.” So taxes aren’t going down anytime soon under a Brown administration. There’s a lot of “ensuring” in his plans, which is a weasel word meaning “mandating.”
Doug Gansler is marginally better, but the problem with his approach is that it has to be the right business in the right location, with a heavy reliance on tax incentives, creating a dependence on government and their gaming of the market. Why not provide the incentives of a great location and encouraging regulatory regime instead of picking winners?
Meanwhile, Heather Mizeur would absolutely devastate job creation in the state by raising the minimum wage, instituting mandatory paid sick leave, and putting combined reporting into effect. In terms of transportation, it’s also telling that she places “investments” in public transportation – a manner of getting from place to place with the least amount of freedom – on a higher priority than fixing roads and bridges. This is exactly backwards.
So how do the Republicans rate?
In looking at what David Craig is saying, I can’t find fault with his approach. Economic development on a state level shouldn’t be about only bringing certain, politically correct businesses. And certainly a pruning of regulations is long overdue.
While there’s been some question about Harford County’sjob creation methods, they are all within the toolbox of incentives allowed by the state.
But I’m a little leery about whether David would be swayed by politics and keep the Red Line. I really wish I knew a little more about his transportation plans, but his manufacturing plan seemed to indicate he had a pretty decent idea about how Maryland could grow. I’ll grant him 9 of 14 points.
There are two broad pieces I really like about Ron George‘s plan: it scraps the whole “One Maryland” concept put in place by the current administration, and it emphasizes manufacturing in smaller towns and cities in rural areas. My hope is that Ron takes the money he locks away for the TTF and follows through on road and bridge improvements to improve truck access.
The only quibble I might have is the grant process because if there’s a payback provision, isn’t it a loan? The other problem I have is a seeming overemphasis on Baltimore City, which is vital but not all-important. Regardless, based on the confidence business has in his voting record, I give Ron 12 of 14 points.
Once again, though, I have an issue with some items Charles Lollar supports.
First of all, the aspect of public-private partnerships that Charles is expressing his interest in usually means tolls or fees collected by the private entity, which sort of blunts the appeal of the “desperately needed” investment. Ironically, the Purple Line Lollar opposes is one such PPP. The state will pay the winning private entity back over time, so where is their risk? Chances are the performance standards won’t be too difficult to attain, depending on the political payoff to the governor at the time.
The next is my wonderment at how one can cut regulations down to size, “but without hurting the state’s natural environment.” Does that mean the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has first right of refusal? Why even put in those weasel words?
Obviously I’m for eliminating the rain tax (as are all the GOP contenders) but I’m disappointed at how vague Charles is about what he would do – for example, what defines an “unnecessary” tax? I think the corporate tax is unnecessary because it makes up a small percentage of the state budget, but would you have the courage to eliminate it?
You may replace the signs at the borders to say Maryland is “open for business” – by the way, I drove into Virginia yesterday and their signs already make that proclamation – but for someone who was charged at one time with running a “Commission for Citizens Tax Relief” this seems like only lip service. Maybe my menory is faulty, but I thought Charles had gone through the budget line by line to suggest cuts once upon a time. I would expect more in-depth issue analysis.
For these and other reasons, I can only give Charles half the points – 7 of 14.
The final main component is taxation, which is worth 15 points. I also have a post’s worth of intangibles, which can add or subtract up to 3 points.
At that point I can assess which candidate is my favorite – at least until Larry Hogan starts spelling out his issue positions so I can compare them.
In 2013 I participated in a group which was a natural fit for me. Since I do the monoblogue Accountability Project on an annual basis, the fact that a group of volunteers took on the task of studying every bill which eminated from the “90 Days of Terror” – my pet name for the Maryland General Assembly session – was a task I felt right at home working on for Maryland Legislative Watch. I think I studied and commented on about 10 or 15 bills, although several volunteers did a lot more.
Well, I’m pleased to receive word from Elizabeth Myers that year two is in the works for 2014:
Thank you for everything you did in the 2013 legislative session. It takes a tireless, irate minority to keep an eye on the Maryland legislature – good government requires the People’s oversight.
Looking at the website statistics, we have tens of thousands of views to date. That means there is a lot of interest in the work we’re doing!
I hope you will be able to come back to volunteer again in the 2014 session. We’re more organized and more determined.
This project was put together in a short span of time for the 2013 session. We learned a lot and made some changes. For 2014, one change is more robust information storage.
In 2014, bills will be assigned via email. The request to read each bill will include:
- Link to the bill
- Title of the bill
- Brief synopsis
- Number of pages
- Link to form with 3-4 questions to answer (plus any additional comments you wish to add)
You’ll be asked to let us know if you cannot read the bill (if you can, we ask that you read it within a few days). The whole process should take 5 – 10 minutes per bill and we ask that you commit to reading at least 15 bills during the session.
No Google account will be required. No more searching a Google doc for your name.
In the 2013 session, we found that 1,500 bills were introduced in 2 weeks – this is a function of the calendar and will happen in 2014, too. They turn on the fire hose and we will try our best to miss fewer bad bills.
We are presenting the project to groups in Washington, Harford, Cecil, Carroll, Howard, and Baltimore Counties, in an effort to get Maryland Legislative Watch a wider readership. We’re gaining more followers on social media and lots of subscribers to MDLegWatch.com. Please tell your friends and family about the project!
What we learned in 2013:
- Once a bill gets out of committee, it passes. Bills must be fought IN committee.
- It takes relatively few people to make an impact on a committee – 15 or so.
- There is little opposition to bills once they get to the floor – in the House, 75% passed unanimously.
- We will not win on big bills, we can have an impact only on small bills and build.
Please let us know if you can volunteer again in 2014. We’ll be thrilled to have you back!
Questions/comments – please let me know.
By my count, there were 2,619 bills introduced in the Maryland General Assembly last year; however, in reality the number of separate measures is somewhat smaller because a percentage of the bills are crossfiled between bodies. Those bills are introduced as identical copies in both the House and the Senate, and are assigned bill numbers in each which rarely match. (For example, the gun bill was Senate Bill 281 and its companion House bill was introduced as House Bill 294.) This shaves the number down to a large extent, although not in half as one may gather.
One other thing I seem to recall being done as part of the triage from the deluge of bills was ignoring the “creation of a state debt” bond bills. That also makes up a significant fraction of the proposed legislation, although by themselves the bills are rarely acted upon. Normally these are just considered as requests for funding in the portion of the budget reserved for such bills.
When you boil all these out you are talking about perhaps 1,200 to 1,500 bills of significance. If each person commits to reading 15, that means we need 80 to 100 volunteers. (This would be most useful around the early part of the session in January, when much of the legislation is introduced in the hopes of getting hearings scheduled fairly early on.) In fact, a number of bills are pre-filed for introduction on the opening day of the session and, according to the General Assembly website, these will be available in late December – so some can get a jump.
The frenetic pace of the session in the early going sometimes seems to be the hiding place for bills which are destined to be controversial – seemingly sponsors figure it’s like Obamacare and if it can just be passed we will find out what’s in it once it takes effect. Maryland Legislative Watch intends to shine a light on the process and keep bad bills from becoming law.
Additional reading: last April, just after the 2013 session concluded, I interviewed Elizabeth on the group and its intentions. I’m looking forward to adding my perspective this coming year as well. You can check out their website as well, or contact Elizabeth.
One thing I’ve noticed in the rampup to Larry Hogan’s big announcement is a significantly increased tempo in media operations from Change Maryland, and the report released yesterday was more than just a little thorn in Martin O’Malley’s side – nope, this was more like a shiv stuck in there and twisted around a couple times. Sadly, pay for play may be considered business as usual in Maryland, but this also demonstrates that Martin O’Malley’s grandiose presidential dreams were cemented into place as the 2010 returns came in.
The always-quotable Hogan remarked:
Our preliminary research indicates a disturbing ‘pay to play’ pattern emerging from the O’Malley-Brown Administration where some DGA donors received a substantial, and increased, state benefits before and after making a contribution. Did the Governor solicit large contributions to help further his national aspirations and reward those donors with huge state contracts and/or implement policies that help them significantly?
Our initial research of DGA financial records is just the tip of the iceberg. It establishes a troubling trend which, when complete, may require a deeper investigation.
Could this investigation be a centerpiece of a Hogan administration? Perhaps, although having an Attorney General who won’t sweep this under the rug (i.e. a Democrat) would be of great assistance in this regard. I think Richard Douglas could sink his teeth into this one.
And while the allegations are against Martin O’Malley, whose Maryland electoral days are likely behind him, you have to wonder how much of these broad brushstrokes will tar Anthony Brown, the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination. And considering all this went on under the nose of Brown’s chief rival, Attorney General Doug Gansler, he may be in for a share of blame, too.
This obviously leads me to wonder about the timing of Change Maryland releasing its promised January report when you consider that Hogan’s announcement is also slated for sometime that month. My belief is that the report will come out just a day or two before the official announcement, giving Larry a longer news cycle to build momentum for his race.
But it also pushes me into thinking that the 2014 election could be one of the muddiest in Maryland history. We’ve already seen evidence of this in the internecine Democratic fighting between Brown and Gansler – interesting how the state trooper incident and underage drinking allegations came out at just the point when Gansler was beginning to get a little traction in the race.
So I got to wondering who was the one that went way back to 1992 and started the meme which Jeff Quinton reported on regarding Hogan’s position on abortion? (Update: As it turns out, it was Jeff himself. My mistake originally was in assuming he was fed the information, not realizing he has an extensive pro-life background.)
One has to take this in context, though: Hogan was running for a Congressional seat at the time (as opposed to a state office) and there was a ballot question regarding abortion law which was petitioned to referendum but handily kept in place by state voters at the time. (Question 6 of 1992 passed by a 62%-38% margin, and was the last referendum until 2012.) Being pro-choice was perhaps the safer electoral move at the time – besides, it took less than four years for Barack Obama to do an about-face on gay marriage so it’s possible Larry has gravitated to a more pro-life perspective in the last 22.
Of course Democrats know that the Republican base is primarily pro-life, so what better way to sow seeds of discord among a select group of GOP primary voters than to bring up the abortion issue? Frankly, that’s not a top-drawer concern for many voters, even in the GOP, but that five percent who identify it as their key issue can make a difference in a multi-person primary. (Aside from the notion that Hogan favored keeping abortions legal, he’s right on the money about overturning Roe v. Wade and sending the issue to the states. It’s a battle best fought in Annapolis…and Dover, and Columbus, and Austin, and so forth.)
But if someone is digging that deep to find dirt about Larry Hogan, perhaps there’s something to the notion that we weren’t buried face-down as deep as some would have thought eight years ago. 2014 seems like a nice time to emerge.
Last week I said that Change Maryland may get to 70,000 Facebook friends by the end of the week; alas, I was apparently off by a couple days. Maybe it was the weekend ice storm which slowed them down, but Larry Hogan’s group eclipsed the mark earlier today. Here’s some of what the founder had to say:
The growth we’ve seen in the last few weeks is incredible. This further cements what we’ve been saying over the last two years: Marylanders, regardless of party, are ready to say enough is enough, and they’re ready to stand up together and fight back for a change.
When I started Change Maryland, my goal was to provide average Marylanders the chance to hold their elected officials accountable. I had no idea what kind of reaction we would get, so to say I am humbled by this amazing success would be an understatement, and I’d like to sincerely thank each and every person who has made this possible.
This campaign to Change Maryland has never been about Republicans vs. Democrats. It’s much more important than that. This is about all Marylanders and the future of our state. It’s about our children and grandchildren’s futures. It’s about all of us, working together to save the state that we love.
All that is great, and Larry’s group is undeniably one of the leaders in pointing out a number of flaws in the state’s current fiscal philosophy. But what I’m anxiously awaiting to find out is what prescriptions a Hogan adminstration would have to address the problems should he be fortunate enough to move into Government House thirteen months from now. We know all about the dozens and dozens of tax increases which have been placed into effect by Martin O’Malley and his (mostly) Democratic allies in the General Assembly; it’s a litany the release alluded to this afternoon:
The group has gained much attention for its various studies on the economic impact of the O’Malley-Brown Administration on the state, including a report detailing the 40 tax increases that have already taken $9.5 billion from the state economy and will take $20 billion by 2018. They also conducted the Tax Migration Study that showed 31,000 Marylanders leaving the state after the administration’s historic tax increases, taking with them an additional $1.7 billion.
But which ones would be the most likely to be set aside and which ones will be found to be necessary for maintaining a balanced budget in this state? And speaking of that end, what will Larry’s spending priorities be?
Obviously I don’t want to diminish the achievement of Change Maryland, which simply by its name has an image of reversing some of the state’s downward trend over the last seven years. But the question has to be asked about whether all 70,000 will be on board once Larry has to stop identifying the problems and begin to address them with a gubernatorial platform.
I’m not privy to his formal announcement date aside from being told it would be next month, but if Larry wanted to speak to some of the state’s leading conservative activists, he may want to consider having Change Maryland sponsor the Turning the Tides Conference on January 10-11 in Annapolis. That would be a great way for any candidate to consider showing off his or her conservative side.
This portion of my dossier will focus on what I call the role of government: simply put, does the candidate seem to believe in the concept of limited government? More importantly, can I be confident they will show leadership in putting government in its place?
People may mistakenly believe the pro-liberty movement wants no government, but few would consider unfettered anarchy their true objective. Yet government should have limits, and those prescribed in our Constitution would serve as a good guide for restoration of its proper role. After all, Article 6 of the Maryland Constitution Declaration of Rights spells this concept out:
That all persons invested with the Legislative or Executive powers of Government are the Trustees of the Public, and, as such, accountable for their conduct: Wherefore, whenever the ends of Government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the People may, and of right ought, to reform the old, or establish a new Government; the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
In my opinion, we definitely need to “reform the old” and establish a new pattern of leadership which will rightsize the state’s government to an appropriate level.
So here are some of the things each of the current candidates had to say about this.
David Craig: As Governor, I will focus on fixing the systemic breakdown in Maryland’s criminal justice system. Department of Corrections management will be held accountable if any cell phones are allowed in prison.
At the very least, crimes committed with guns should be tried in federal court so offenders are not eligible for parole. (E)arly release schemes must be reviewed on the basis of the impact on crime, not what’s best for the criminal.
I will appoint judges who end the revolving door on crime.
Feel-good legislation will be replaced with vigorous enforcement and prosecution of gun crimes.
Speed camera contracts, enabled by state law, will be terminated.
I will work to re-align Maryland’s spending on welfare programs with other states in the region including unemployment compensation, food stamps, Medicaid, home energy assistance and other programs.
To increase transparency, state government will be required to use social media and other web-based platforms to disseminate information on their actions to the public. (campaign website)
Craig said Maryland Governors need to engage the U.S. EPA on mandates like the one on which the state rain tax law is premised.
“There is no reason the Governor of Maryland should assume a subservient status when it comes to conforming with federal government wishes,” said Craig. ”Maryland is not leading, we’re following, which is a shame because we have more at stake in protecting the Bay than any other state.” (press release, July 1, 2013)
An interesting question was how he would deal with the federal government. Craig would lean on the Republican Governor’s Association which, as he noted, had grown from 13 states when he was first elected in 1979 to 30 now. (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)
Craig referred to his experience of reaching out to those on both sides of the aisle and that the way that he approaches people helps him have a better chance at a successful legislative agenda. (Raging Against the Rhetoric, June 2013)
Ron George: Requiring independent audits of all departments and agencies, including our Medicaid, Welfare, and state health insurance. Cutting any waste found within these audits. Improve needed efficiency and effectiveness. Flow money more directly to its intended target, cutting out government “middlemen”. Eliminate duplicative services across state agencies. Level funding whenever the economy slows.
Implementing the state’s transparency software that the O’Malley/ Brown administration cut funding to.
Removing the pressure of one-size fits all state mandates on local governments because the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
Allowing and encouraging the enforcement all existing laws. Remove ineffective and over-reaching laws.
Better defining roles, for Sheriffs, state and local police in ways that allow each to better do their work.
Making sure (Constitutional rights) will not be infringed upon. Ron George believes the strength of our state lies with the individual and each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored. (campaign site)
Bringing in professional, independent auditors to review every department and agency will allow us to root out the waste and redirect funds to programs where they will do the most good. Independent audits work. (Baltimore Sun, August 8, 2013)
“My plan for governor is one that’s very regional. I believe that you have to have a different solution for what’s going to work in Baltimore, what’s going to work in Prince George’s County, you have to find ways to make things work. I believe in building an economic base, a tax base, a strong one, in Baltimore City.” (interview with Kenn Blanchard, September 9, 2013)
He said a state grant with a payback provision makes sense, because if it spurs a local economy, it increases the tax base. If private firms aren’t stepping up, “you need a grant to close that hole,” he said. The state “awards a lot of grants we never see a payback on. The money is gone.” (Kent County News, August 22, 2013)
Explaining that he suggested a state health care insurance exchange be created in 2007, George said problems with the Obama Administration’s health care fix are that, “It centralizes control and it’s one size fits all.” (Dorchester Star, August 25, 2013)
Charles Lollar: ”If you think our rights are from men, don’t vote for me,” said Lollar. “Rights and liberties…come from the Creator of our universe.” (WCRC meeting, August 26, 2013)
Charles believes in the dignity of the individual. We are a free people able and chartered by our Constitution to self-govern. The role of government is to provide avenues, not to be the yoke. (campaign website, “Platform”)
Reform sloppy and incompetent government practices that dispense discrimination and pick winners.
Manage departments so they are more responsive, efficient, accountable and transparent. Require independent audits of government departments and agencies.
Reduce the cost of operating state government by streamlining the bureaucracy; managing the size of government, not by cutting government jobs, but through attrition and eliminating waste. (campaign website, “Accountability”)
“Our Founding Fathers never wanted this country to have full-time politicians. Ever…I’m proud of the fact I have very little political experience.” (blogger interview, June 24, 2013)
Responding to concerns that many foreclosures don’t meet long-standing legal criteria dictated by Federal or State law, the NAACP recently asked Governor O’Malley to sign an executive order to halt foreclosures until the claims of illegal practices can be investigated.
“I am supporting the NAACP in the fight for a moratorium on foreclosures and to stop the flood of people losing their homes illegally,” Lollar said. (press release, November 18, 2013)
In looking at the body of work David Craig brings to the table, I can find a lot to like about his record as a tax reducer. He also hits the correct notes on fighting crime (which is a legitimate function of government) but I’d be curious to know where he stands on the failed War on Drugs, which needlessly drives up the prison population.
He gets points for being willing to dump the speed camera program (better known in these parts as “scameras”) as perhaps he understands that the idea of these isn’t really safety, but a feelgood way of passing yet another “sin tax.” But why stop at bringing entitlements down to the level of surrounding states? Why not provide leadership by putting into motion the idea of sunsetting them entirely? That would certainly show he’s not subservient to the federal government, even at the risk of losing federal money.
I also don’t get the idea of reaching across the aisle – aren’t they the ones who messed things up in the first place? I want conservative, pro-liberty proposals and a leader who can make the opposition vote the correct way by using the people as his lobbyists, sort of like this guy named Reagan did. Out of 13 points, I think I will give David 8.
In looking at what Ron George had to say, it’s obvious he wants a leaner, more efficient government. But the question is whether he wants a smaller government, since these concepts aren’t necessarily mutual. Having 10 people enforce an unnecessary mandate is not much better than having 20 people enforce it.
Moreover, the idea about “a grant with a payback provision” – isn’t that a loan? I’ve never liked the idea of a governmental entity being a pass-through for anything.
On the other hand, if he goes the step beyond eliminating waste and begins eliminating mandates and laws, then we may be getting somewhere. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous section, George was partially responsible for allowing them to happen because he voted for the bills. Admittedly he may be moving farther to the right as his political career continues, bucking the common trend, but until I see specifics I can only guess he will be the type of governor who will streamline things but keep them in place for some future Democratic governor to abuse. This is why I added the last bullet point about the exchanges, because he’s backed away a little bit from them of late now that Obamacare has been shown to be a failure (note the quote is from August, before Obamacare took effect.) So I will give him 6 of 13 points.
Similarly, Charles Lollar borrows Ron George’s idea for independent audits, but only wants to make cuts through attrition. I have news for you, Charles: in order to rightsize government, some of those excess workers will have to be forced to join the private sector, otherwise we will be right back in the same boat once your term is up and some Democrat comes in again.
But there is one thing I’m beginning to notice in the statements Charles is making: a distinct strain of populism. Most conservatives would agree with the assertion that rights and liberties come from the Creator of our universe, but would those who prefer limited government want to have the state come in and stop foreclosures (by executive order, no less) because one advocacy group says so? By the same token, I used the example in an earlier piece about denying Pepco a rate increase, a stance which stemmed from a meeting where Pepco wasn’t represented to give its side.
It seems like Charles is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Granted, this tends to be the time where policy specifics are in short supply but Charles has fewer than his competitors. I’m having a hard time reconciling the varied messages with the underlying principles he’s seemed to espouse over the last few years, particularly on the Second Amendment – a stance which endeared him to many and gave him the impetus to run for governor. So I can only give him the same 6 points that Ron George received.
I’m actually close to the end for these three candidates, with a look at Larry Hogan to follow once he establishes his platform in the coming months. The next part will focus on Joe Biden’s three-letter word: j-o-b-s.
By the way, I omitted the Democrats from this part entirely because their idea of the role of government seems to be that of overlord. I’m not into that.